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What is Transhumanism? – Graphics by Luis Arroyo

What is Transhumanism? – Graphics by Luis Arroyo

Luis Arroyo


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this set of graphics by our member Luis Arroyo to bring attention to an interesting and worthwhile outlook on transhumanism. This is meant as a brief but informative overview of some transhumanist ideas as well as the diversity of thought within the transhumanist movement. Also, these graphics are effective for sharing on various social-media platforms.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, August 26, 2021


References

[1] Agence France-Presse. “Paralysed man walks using mind-controlled exoskeleton”. 4 October 2019. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/04/paralysed-man-walks-using-mind-controlled-exoskeleton

[2] Katie Tan. “Duke surgical team successfully implants new generation artificial heart in patient, first in U.S.” The Duke Chronicle. 29 July 2021. Available at https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2021/07/duke-university-hospital-health-artificial-heart-transplant-research-study-carmat

[3] Saqib Shah. “A magnetic helmet shrunk a deadly tumor in world-first test”. Engadget. 26 July 2021. Available at https://www.engadget.com/magnetic-helmet-tumor-093523598.html

[4] American Friends of Tel Aviv University. “Tel Aviv University study finds hyperbaric oxygen treatments reverse aging process”. EurekAlert! 19 November 2020. Available at https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/667837

[5] The Washington Post. “His voice silenced for years, a man can now communicate using only the electrical impulses from his brain”. 14 July 2021. Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/paralyzed-man-can-communicate/2021/07/14/3a9ce638-e4b5-11eb-8aa5-5662858b696e_story.html

[6] Phys.org. “Scientists create embryos to save northern white rhino”. 30 July 2021. Available at https://phys.org/news/2021-07-scientists-embyros-northern-white-rhino.html

 

The Poverty Crisis and a Case for Universal Basic Income – Article by Brent Ellman in TAFFD’s Magazine

The Poverty Crisis and a Case for Universal Basic Income – Article by Brent Ellman in TAFFD’s Magazine

Brent Ellman


Editor’s Note: U.S. Transhumanist Party member and long-time USTP supporter Brent Ellman has published a piece in TAFFD’s Magazine on Universal Basic Income (UBI). Our friends at TAFFD’s (https://taffds.org/) were nice enough to give us permission to cross-post the article here in full format. Brent is an entrepreneur with a diverse background and currently serves as director of marketing at TAFFD’s. Originally from New York, he has lived in Colorado since 2008. 

~ Dan Elton, Director of Scholarship, United States Transhumanist Party, December 27, 2020


Excerpt: In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced in his State of the Union Address that, “This administration, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” How does one fight a war against poverty, though? What exactly does poverty even mean? As of 2019 in the United States, an individual who makes under $12,490 annually is considered to be living in poverty. A family of 3 earning under $21,330 also falls under the category of living in poverty.

In Denver, Colorado, 15.1% of the population lives below the poverty level, according to a recent Census Bureau ACS 5-year estimate. That estimate found that 101,000 out of 666,000 people are living below the poverty line. To put this further into perspective, as of July 2020, according to RentJungle.org, the average price to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Denver is $1468 per month. According to RentCafe only 5% of rentals listed in Denver are priced at less than $1000 per month. We’ve been waging America’s unconditional war on poverty for 56 years, and this is how far we’ve come.

How might poverty actually be solved in the United States? Read Brent Ellman’s full article here.

Near-Term Improvements to Cities to Combat COVID-19 – Article by Pavel Ilin

Near-Term Improvements to Cities to Combat COVID-19 – Article by Pavel Ilin

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Pavel Ilin


While we are still on lockdown and there is no certainty about when we can safely reopen everything, it is worth reflecting on how we organize our living spaces. COVID-19 is not the first and not the last virus-caused pandemic humanity will have to encounter, and we should be prepared.

Especially we should focus on what improvements can be implemented right away. But first, let’s analyze how the novel coronavirus is spreading.

Virus transmission

It appears that viruses travel inside of droplets. Virus particles can’t travel far just in the air. If that were the case, and the virus could be distributed by the ventilation system within the buildings or in public transportation, then the infection rate would be much higher. We don’t see that yet, and therefore we can conclude it is not happening, and we are very fortunate in that case.

It seems that the virus can be transmitted through close contact (3-4 feet, 1-2 meters away) from person to person. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions. Spread.) Also it can be transmitted through surfaces. It has been observed that the virus can live on surfaces in some cases between a few hours and few days. (Source: CDC updates COVID-19 transmission webpage to clarify information about types of spread.)

The challenge is that in a lot of cases, people carry the virus asymptomatically, and they have no idea that they carry a potential threat to the lives of others.

How can we reduce spread?

I can identify 4 levels of control where we can intervene and stop or reduce spread of the virus:

1. Eliminating the source of infection

Efforts could be devoted toward implementing automated virus checks while people come into buildings. We can do automated temperature screens, measure oxygen level in the blood, and implement more potential technologies powered with artificial intelligence (AI) systems to come, which can help with automated and non-invasive testing.

Of course this raises big questions about surveillance, collecting data without people’s consent, and potential discriminatory practices. This is another big conversation we should have.

2. Administrative control

Social distancing – it’s what we are doing right now. And it’s not only a stay-at-home solution. We can also make public spaces less dense. We can put fewer chairs from conference rooms, fewer desks in the offices. Most of the office jobs do not require physical presence. And many manual-labor jobs can be automated.

Of course if we ask people to stay at home, they have to be able to stay at home. First, people should have a home to stay in. To ensure that everyone has a place to stay, we can use rapid 3D printing of the houses and give them to the people who cannot afford to take out a house loan or make a rent payment. 

We can see how job markets have shrunk during recent the pandemic, and many people simply cannot afford to stay at home. Pandemic or not, you have basic needs such as food, hygiene, communication, and healthcare. And these needs must be met in order to keep people in a good physical and mental state. I believe that introduction of some form of basic income would be a good solution.

3. Engineering controls

Through engineering tools we can upgrade our spaces without fundamental rebuilding of the infrastructure.

Increasing ventilation rates in the rooms allows one to bring in more outdoor air,  and the implementation of personalized ventilation and a personalized exhaust system for airborne infection control can reduce the risk of airborne infection significantly. (Source: Ventilation control for airborne transmission of human exhaled bio-aerosols in buildings. Hua Qian, Xiaohong Zheng. J Thorac Dis. 2018 Jul; 10(Suppl 19): S2295–S2304. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2018.01.24)

Installation of the UV-C light within the ventilation system can clear the airflow from any germs and viruses. (Source: Aerosol Susceptibility of Influenza Virus to UV-C Light. James J. McDevitt, Stephen N. Rudnick, Lewis J. Radonovich, Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Mar; 78(6): 1666–1669. doi: 10.1128/AEM.06960-11)

As was mentioned before, viruses can survive on the surfaces for some time and can be transmitted while people touch the surface. Through remote-control technologies we reduce interaction with surfaces to minimum. Light switches, elevator buttons, doors, and other aspects of a building can be controlled through the phone or other devices without direct interaction.

4. Personal protective equipment

This level is especially important during an active pandemic situation. Masks, gloves, and face-protection shields, should be produced in advance, stockpiled so they can be available for the people, especially for essential workers when they need this equipment.

Conclusion

To implement all these preventive measures, we don’t have to invent anything and completely rebuild cities’ infrastructure. All technologies are there; we just need to use them rationally and be willing to invest some time and effort into implementation. In the next article we will look into the future and talk about more radical city planning approaches,  such as 3D cities and Arcologies.

Pavel Ilin is Secretary of the United States Transhumanist Party.

Results of Platform Vote #8 and Adopted Sections on COVID-19 Responses

Results of Platform Vote #8 and Adopted Sections on COVID-19 Responses

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Gennady Stolyarov II


The U.S. Transhumanist Party conducted its fourteenth vote of the members and the eighth vote on its platform planks between March 25 and March 28, 2020. Official ballot options can be found here.

Detailed results of the voting have been tabulated here. In two instances, where no majority was reached in the first round of voting, options were selected based on the ranked-preference method with instant runoffs.

As a result, the following new or amended sections of Article VI of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution were adopted.

These sections are also compiled in a special area of the USTP Platform pertaining to COVID-19 responses.

Watch U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II and Vice-Chairman J. Ben Zion discuss the results of the vote on the Debt Nation show with Steele Archer here.

It is time to reorient the economy and society toward pursuit of public health and longevity. We are already effectively on a war footing, so let us take the war on the offensive against death and disease. Either the world will succumb to this pandemic, or we can turn around the situation to step fully into the Transhuman Era. The U.S. Transhumanist Party is proud to put forward these proactive ideas for winning this war.


Section XCVIII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for rapid construction of hospitals to begin immediately throughout the United States, with one new hospital constructed for every 50,000 in population. Rapid construction techniques, pioneered in China during the COVID-19 outbreak, should be utilized in the United States to build new hospitals in 10 days or less. However, unlike the rapidly constructed Chinese hospitals, the new hospitals constructed in the United States should become permanent.

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for immediately waiving any zoning restrictions and building codes that would in any manner delay, prevent, or interfere with such rapid construction of hospitals.

Architectural designs for the rapidly constructed hospitals should:
(i) Be prepared and updated as new and superior building techniques and technologies are developed;
(ii) Include plans for multi-purpose facilities for patient care and research, or protocols for how to flexibly convert patient-care facilities into research facilities and vice versa as the need arises; and
(iii) Include separate entrances and generally separate facilities for patients infected with COVID-19 and all other patients, so as to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 to hospital visitors who do not have it.

Once the new permanent hospitals have been established, the United States Transhumanist Party supports a mandate for these hospitals to remain open to patients and fully staffed in perpetuity, regardless of profitability or patient influx. After the COVID-19 outbreak subsides, the new hospitals would provide major additional capacity to respond to epidemics and also conduct research on fighting diseases, including biological aging.

After the construction of the new hospitals, the United States Transhumanist Party supports an indefinite obligation for the U.S. federal government to indefinitely remedy any shortfall in funds to a new hospital in order to prevent its closure. Any hospital receiving such federal assistance shall be limited in the charges it may impose for its services to 110% of the cost of providing such services.

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the construction and retrofit of buildings adjacent to the hospitals, which could be used for any of a variety of unrelated purposes in normal times, but which could rapidly be converted into hospital space in times of pandemics by means of features that enable easy customizability, modularity, and accessibility to patients and medical personnel.

The United States Transhumanist Party views a vast and permanent expansion of hospital capacity as a necessary component of a permanent reorientation of the economy and broader society toward the pursuit of improved public health and widespread life extension. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the extent of the disruption and suffering that can occur if these goals are not made explicit and not supported by guaranteed allocations of resources immune from macroeconomic vicissitudes.

Section XCIX [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports for an immediate, universal, unconditional basic income of at least $1000 per month to be provided to every United States citizen for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and its immediate aftermath, without regard for individuals’ means or other sources of income. The priority for this program should be to prevent massive and irreparable economic disruptions to the lives of Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Section C [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: In recognition of the severe, sudden, and often all-encompassing adverse economic impacts resulting from governmental measures taken to limit the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, and in the conviction that the principles of justice require that governmental policies – even if necessary, unavoidable, or beneficial on balance – not damage innocent parties without just compensation, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the United States federal government to take the following actions:

(i) Fully compensate all adversely affected businesses for all loss of income and property resulting from governmental measures taken to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that any businesses receiving such compensation should be
    (a) Prohibited from engaging in buybacks of their own stocks; and
    (b) Prohibited from increasing executive pay if that pay currently exceeds $500,000 per executive per year.

(ii) Fully compensate all individuals who lost their jobs or self-employment income, or suffered a reduction in working hours, as a result of governmental measures taken to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. This compensation shall be in addition to, and not a substitute for, the universal basic income received by those individuals.

Section CI [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: In recognition that the recent screening bottlenecks at United States airports create situations of unacceptable crowding which further contribute to the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for immediate admittance through security checkpoints of the vast majority travelers currently waiting at airports in the United States. Such travelers may be required to subsequently undergo health screenings at other facilities within the United States within a certain period of time, as long as such screenings do not involuntarily place the individuals being screened in close physical proximity to one another.

Section CII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the recall of all United States military personnel from overseas stations as soon as possible and their deployment for the purpose of rapid hospital construction in the United States, as well as for providing rapid emergency aid and essential infrastructure improvements. Continued military presence abroad only unnecessarily exposes American troops to the risk of infection, while the expertise of American military personnel in crisis response is urgently needed within American borders.

Section CIII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the rapid research into effective cures and vaccines for COVID-19 and the harnessing of synergies from this research to also develop a cure for the common cold and more effective vaccination against influenza. Such research should proceed with no barriers, subject to the researchers’ expression of ethical intentions, and any regulations or processes that would delay the progress of such research should be immediately waived or repealed. In the effort to accelerate progress in this field, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for an immediate $100 billion funding package for the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine, with all volunteers being accepted into human trials as soon as practicable. The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for government funding and ownership of any cure for COVID-19, to be distributed free of charge to those infected with the virus.

Section CIV [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: Because biological aging is the number-one risk factor for mortality and severe complications from COVID-19 infections, as well as infections of virtually every sort, the United States Transhumanist Party emphasizes the importance of reversing biological aging as rapidly as possible and thereby protecting more lives from future pandemics. Accordingly, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for a permanent, annual $100 billion funding package for anti-aging research, to be immediately distributed to leading research organizations in the field which have in the past specifically identified the defeat and reversal of biological aging as their goals.

Section CV [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the immediate institution of a program of micropayments to everyone participating in citizen-science initiatives, such as Foldit, with the specific aim of developing cures or vaccines for COVID-19. Micropayments should be proportional to the amount of time and/or computing power spent contributing to any given initiative, with additional bounties provided for results with meaningful practical applications.

Section CVI [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: In response to the dire shortage of ventilator components and other crucial equipment in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the rapid 3D-printing of additional components through both private and governmental initiatives, as well as the deployment of on-site 3D-printers in every hospital and medical clinic to enable the future production of such components on demand. Immediate bounties should be offered by federal, state, and local government to individuals and businesses capable of producing such components. Policy initiatives should empower individuals and communities to explore the suitability of alternative manufacturing processes to produce needed parts and equipment to deal with the crisis.

Section CVII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for an immediate allowance for remote learning to satisfy the completion or graduation requirements of all K-12 schools and all publicly funded colleges and universities indefinitely going forward. Not only is physical proximity not necessary for effective learning in light of rapidly advancing technologies allowing immersive interaction at a distance, but the encouragement of remote learning also allows individuals more flexibility in advancing at their own pace and focusing on subjects and skill sets which result in the greatest fulfillment and most improved life prospects. The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the maximal adoption of diverse homeschooling approaches throughout the United States, suited to the individual aptitudes, preferences, and learning styles of students.

The United States Transhumanist Party also supports refocusing the education system on producing the goods and services necessary to maintain United States independence, including vocational studies in electricity, metalwork, ceramics, auto mechanics, graphic arts, and coding in the classroom.

Section CVIII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: In recognition that unsanitary living conditions are a primary cause of the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the United States Transhumanist Party supports the immediate and mandatory housing of the homeless, achieved by means of the rapid construction of tiny homes, including 3D-printed homes, without regard for building codes or zoning regulations, which must be immediately waived to allow such construction.

Every homeless individual discovered by local authorities would be required to move into a separate small home free of monetary cost and would be granted free conditional title to the home. The conditions of the title would be that the new homeowner would be obligated to perform litter-cleanup and other community-service duties for a specified time period per day under supervision, until and unless he or she is able to find different or better housing independently. The new housing communities would be subject to actively enforced covenants and restrictions prohibiting alcohol and recreational drugs. Such prohibitions will have the side benefit of transitioning the homeless toward meaningful social participation and useful work.

Section CIX [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports establishing a rapid three-month training and certification program for hundreds of thousands medical personnel specifically for responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and other pandemics. While the newly trained medical practitioners would not be full-fledged medical doctors, they would be provided with fundamental knowledge of epidemiology, first aid, sanitary practices, and patient care, including the operation of the devices used to assist severely ill patients. This would greatly supplement the available personnel to respond effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak and also anticipate future pandemics. The new COVID-19 medical responders would be compensated generously and selected from among high-performing students and other populations with demonstrated competence and aptitude for learning. For any first responders with student loans, those loans would be forgiven in exchange for a commitment to serve until the COVID-19 pandemic is eradicated. Those medical responders who remain in their positions afterward will receive continuous training on effective pandemic response so as to be in a superior position to anticipate, prevent, and mitigate future outbreaks.

Section CX [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the immediate deployment of as many COVID-19 diagnostic tests as possible to the general population, with the aim of achieving universal testing of every American, even those without symptoms, free of charge. Universal testing is necessary to understand the true prevalence of COVID-19 infections and the proportion of serious cases and fatalities relative to actual total cases, not merely reported cases. This would enable a true understanding of the extent of the epidemic’s spread as well as how the rates of serious complications and death compare to the common cold and influenza. The United States Transhumanist Party supports generous aid to both private and governmental research teams working in parallel on developing effective testing kits and approaches, particularly those which do not require large numbers of people to congregate.

The United States Transhumanist Party also advocates for COVID-19 testing kits to be developed that could result in tests being self-administered by individuals in their own homes and then mailed to laboratories for evaluation. This would minimize the physical contact of individuals being tested with medical practitioners and other patients.

Section CXI [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the establishment of facilities, such as warehouses, where essential supplies would be temporarily stored in large quantities in case of emergencies such as COVID-19. Distributors would supply to these warehouses a large surplus of essential goods, and hospitals, medical research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and other medical organizations would get their normal supplies, including masks, soap, hand-sanitizer, and common device components, from there in the event of any shortages. In case of an epidemic, there will be enough supplies on hand to provide such institutions for a prolonged period of time.

The essential supplies stored by such facilities would include ready-made hazmat suits that could be distributed to both medical practitioners and the population at large in the event of a highly contagious disease outbreak, along with clear and layperson-friendly instructions of how to put on and use the hazmat suits effectively.

Section CXII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party holds that, as a proactive measure, the United States should spearhead an initiative to collaborate with other wealthy nations, or by means of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up a financial and material package of supplies and infrastructure to be deployed anywhere in the world in case a pathogen is found that needs to rapidly be contained in a foreign nation. This could be particularly important if the origin country is one that cannot itself manage to contain the outbreak due to poverty or lack of resources. This could help prevent a pathogen from ever coming to the United States.

A committee or part of an existing office should research and collaborate with other nations to learn and establish best or improved practices and update emergency plans accordingly. Likewise such collaborative efforts could establish which practices are not effective and remove those accordingly.

Section CXIII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts by the federal government to begin an initiative in collaboration with businesses to create packages of emergency medical supplies, akin to a first-aid kit box, for civilians to buy for an affordable price, and offered for free to those who fall below the poverty line. Such a package could include advanced face masks, hand-sanitizer, soap, latex gloves, and other important items for effective epidemic response. The kit should come with clear instructions on how and when to use it, as well as instructions regarding self-quarantining and the express notice that the kit should not be re-sold, because the health and safety of everyone depends on the maximum number of people participating. This advance provision of response kits would have the effects of lowering the pressure on supply when there is an emergency and enabling people to be better prepared from the start, thus immediately limiting the spread of a pathogen.

Section CXIV [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the inclusion of education on epidemic crises in the curricula of schools. Science-based instruction on key attributes of epidemics and pandemics, historical instances, and effective responses could be incorporated within related courses, such as biology.

Section CXV [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the immediate and complete repeal of all “certificate of need” laws, which currently, in many jurisdictions, prohibit the construction of new hospitals or the expansion of capacity of existing hospitals, unless “need” is demonstrated using arbitrary criteria overseen by incumbents within the hospital industry. “Certificate of need” laws are entirely deleterious and have no redeeming features of any sort. They constitute pure protectionism for the incomes of incumbents, at the expense of available and affordable health care, especially in times of increased strain, such as pandemics.

Section CXVI [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the development of vaccines under conditions that do not afford patents to the developers but instead compensate the developers in the form of bounties for safe, effective vaccines and their rapid production and deployment. Patents, as grants of exclusive monopoly privilege for as long as twenty years, operate to limit the supply of a vaccine and render it artificially expensive. Bounties and other forms of compensation based on production and distribution of vaccines would be better aligned with the urgent public interest in those vaccines’ rapid availability to the general population.

Section CXVII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the deployment of robots and automated systems wherever possible to assist COVID-19 patients and individuals who are at greater risk for serious complications from COVID-19. These systems could include autonomous vehicles, food-delivery robots and drones, and production robots in as many industries as possible to reduce the human presence in factories while continuing to manufacture many goods necessary for human life and well-being.

Section CXVIII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 25-28, 2020]: Given the extreme delays, bottlenecks, and expenses created by the mandatory approval processes on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Transhumanist Party supports abolishing the FDA and replacing it with a Radical Life Extension Administration (RLEA), whose mandate would be to prioritize the rapid development of potential disease cures, treatments, and vaccines – including any possible cures or vaccines for COVID-19, as well as treatments to mitigate and reverse the disease of biological aging, the major risk factor for COVID-19. The RLEA would allow the marketing and collection of patient data on any potential cure, treatment, or vaccine which has passed affordable safety testing at a reasonably acceptable threshold.

Official Ballot Options for Platform Vote #8 on COVID-19 Response

Official Ballot Options for Platform Vote #8 on COVID-19 Response

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The 3-day electronic voting period on the eighth set of proposed platform planks of the U.S. Transhumanist Party in response to the COVID-19 crisis (21 potential planks in total) will occur from 1:01 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time on March 25, 2020, to 1:01 p.m.  U.S. Pacific Time on March 28, 2020. All members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party (USTP) who have applied before 1:01 p.m. on March 25, 2020, will be eligible to vote, as long as they have expressed agreement with the three Core Ideals of the USTP or have otherwise been rendered eligible to vote at the discretion of the Chairman.

All members who are eligible to vote will be sent a link to an electronic submission form whereby they will be able to cast their ballot.

When you are voting, it is strongly recommended that you keep this page of official ballot options and the submission form open simultaneously in different windows so that you can reference the relevant options as you vote on them. Due to space limitations, the submission form does not list the entire text of all the options.

It is also recommended that you set aside at least thirty minutes to consider and vote on all of the options and read their text closely, as some of the options contain minor variations upon other options. 

For some questions, electronic voting is  conducted by a ranked-preference method on individual articles where more options are possible than would be accommodated by a simple “Yes” or “No” vote. Members should keep in mind that the ranked-preference method eliminates the incentives for strategic voting – so members are encouraged to vote for the options that reflect their individual preferences as closely as possible, without regard for how other members might vote.

Results of the voting will be tabulated during late March 2020, with the intent to announce the results approximately 2-3 days after all votes have been submitted.

NOTE: The titles of the questions and potential Sections are descriptive and informational only and will not appear in the final adopted platform planks (which will be incorporated into Article VI of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution). They are intended as concise guides to the subject matter of the questions and potential Sections. Likewise, the letters assigned to Sections within this ballot will not reflect the numbering of the final adopted provisions, which will depend on which Sections are selected by the membership.

NOTE II: The inclusion of any proposals on this ballot does not indicate any manner of endorsement for those proposals by the U.S. Transhumanist Party at this time – except to place those proposals before the members to determine the will of the members with regard to whether or not the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform should incorporate any given proposal.


Voter Identification

E-mail address

Provide the same e-mail address you used to register for U.S. Transhumanist Party membership. Your ballot will be cross-referenced to our membership rolls, and only ballots with matching e-mail addresses will be counted.

What is your name?

At minimum, first and last name are required, unless you are publicly known by a single-name pseudonym which is not itself a common name. Your identity will not be publicly disclosed by the Transhumanist Party, unless you choose and/or authorize its disclosure. The nature of the selections made by the members may be disclosed, but, if they are, each individual vote will not be associated with the identity of the voter but rather will be presented in an anonymized manner.

Navigate the Options

Proposed Platform Sections

Question I. Section E8-A. Rapid Construction of Hospitals
Question II. Section E8-A. Rapid Construction of Hospitals – Ancillary Provisions
Question III. Section E8-B. Emergency Universal Basic Income
Question IV. Section E8-C. Full Compensation of Affected Businesses and Workers
Question V. Section E8-C. Full Compensation of Affected Businesses and Workers – Ancillary Provisions
Question VI. Section E8-D. Elimination of Bottlenecks at Airports
Question VII. Section E8-E. Rapid Domestic Deployment of Military Personnel from Overseas
Question VIII. Section E8-F. Rapid Research into Cures for COVID-19, Common Cold, and Influenza
Question IX. Section E8-G. Emergency Funding Package for Anti-Aging Research
Question X. Section E8-H. Micropayments for Citizen-Science Initiatives
Question XI. Section E8-I. Rapid 3D-Printing of Ventilator Components and Other Crucial Medical Equipment
Question XII. Section E8-J. Refocusing of the Education System toward Remote Learning
Question XIII. Section E8-J. Refocusing of the Education System toward Remote Learning – Ancillary Provision
Question XIV. Section E8-K. Mandatory Free Housing of the Homeless
Question XV. Section E8-L. Rapid Training for Medical Personnel
Question XVI. Section E8-M. Universal Free COVID-19 Testing
Question XVII. Section E8-M. Universal Free COVID-19 Testing – Ancillary Provision
Question XVIII. Section E8-N. Establishment of Facilities to Store Essential Supplies
Question XIX. Section E8-N. Establishment of Facilities to Store Essential Supplies – Ancillary Provision
Question XX. Section E8-O. Collaboration with Other Nations on Pandemic Response
Question XXI. Section E8-P. Creation of Packages of Emergency Medical Supplies
Question XXII. Section E8-Q. Educational Programs on Epidemics
Question XXIII. Section E8-R. Repeal of “Certificate of Need” Laws
Question XXIV. Section E8-S. Patentless Development of Vaccines
Question XXV. Section E8-T. Utilization of Robots to Assist Patients and Vulnerable Individuals
Question XXVI. Section E8-U. Abolition of the Food and Drug Administration and Its Replacement with a Radical Life Extension Administration

Proposed Platform Sections

Question I. Section E8-A. Rapid Construction of Hospitals

Rank-order the Section E8-A Options that you support. Choose “1” for your most highly favored option, “2” for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for “No Section of this sort” in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)

If you choose “Abstain”, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.

Option E8-A-1. [Proposal for Rapid Construction of Permanent Hospitals] The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for rapid construction of hospitals to begin immediately throughout the United States, with one new hospital constructed for every 50,000 in population. Rapid construction techniques, pioneered in China during the COVID-19 outbreak, should be utilized in the United States to build new hospitals in 10 days or less. However, unlike the rapidly constructed Chinese hospitals, the new hospitals constructed in the United States should become permanent.

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for immediately waiving any zoning restrictions and building codes that would in any manner delay, prevent, or interfere with such rapid construction of hospitals.

Once the new permanent hospitals have been established, the United States Transhumanist Party supports a mandate for these hospitals to remain open to patients and fully staffed in perpetuity, regardless of profitability or patient influx. After the COVID-19 outbreak subsides, the new hospitals would provide major additional capacity to respond to epidemics and also conduct research on fighting diseases, including biological aging.

After the construction of the new hospitals, the United States Transhumanist Party supports an indefinite obligation for the U.S. federal government to indefinitely remedy any shortfall in funds to a new hospital in order to prevent its closure. Any hospital receiving such federal assistance shall be limited in the charges it may impose for its services to 110% of the cost of providing such services.

The United States Transhumanist Party views a vast and permanent expansion of hospital capacity as a necessary component of a permanent reorientation of the economy and broader society toward the pursuit of improved public health and widespread life extension. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the extent of the disruption and suffering that can occur if these goals are not made explicit and not supported by guaranteed allocations of resources immune from macroeconomic vicissitudes.

Option E8-A-2. [Proposal by Marlin Adams for Rapid Construction of Temporary Hospitals]

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for rapid construction of temporary hospitals to begin immediately throughout the United States, with one new hospital constructed for every 50,000 in population. Rapid construction techniques, pioneered in China during the COVID-19 outbreak, should be utilized in the United States to build new hospitals in 10 days or less.

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for immediately waiving any zoning restrictions and building codes that would in any manner delay, prevent, or interfere with such rapid construction of hospitals.

☐ Option E8-A-NO. No Section of this sort.

Question II. Section E8-A. Rapid Construction of Hospitals – Ancillary Provisions 

If Section E8-A regarding the rapid construction of hospitals is adopted as part of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, shall any of the following ancillary provisions be appended to that Section?

Select all the options you support. (You can select multiple options for this question.)  Any option receiving the majority of votes cast will be included in the ultimately adopted plank, unless Option E8-A-NO prevails in the vote on Question I above. If you do not favor any of the options below, then you may leave this question blank.

☐ Ancillary Provision E8-A-i. [Based on Proposal by Martin van der Kroon] Architectural designs for the rapidly constructed hospitals should be prepared and updated as new and superior building techniques and technologies are developed.

Ancillary Provision E8-A-ii. [Based on Proposal by Jason Geringer] Architectural designs for the rapidly constructed hospitals should include plans for multi-purpose facilities for patient care and research, or protocols for how to flexibly convert patient-care facilities into research facilities and vice versa as the need arises.

☐ Ancillary Provision E8-A-iii. [Based on Proposal by Sylvester Geldtmeijer] Architectural designs for the rapidly constructed hospitals should include separate entrances and generally separate facilities for patients infected with COVID-19 and all other patients, so as to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 to hospital visitors who do not have it.

☐ Ancillary Provision E8-A-iv. [Based on Proposal by Sylvester Geldtmeijer] The United States Transhumanist Party supports the construction and retrofit of buildings adjacent to the hospitals, which could be used for any of a variety of unrelated purposes in normal times, but which could rapidly be converted into hospital space in times of pandemics by means of features that enable easy customizability, modularity, and accessibility to patients and medical personnel.

☐ Ancillary Provision E8-A-v. [Based on Proposal by Martin van der Kroon] While many unoccupied sites could be used as locations for the new hospitals, burial sites, especially native burial grounds, and other areas that have cultural or historical sensitive backgrounds should be avoided if possible. This is to prevent depriving native minorities of their ancestral legacies, as well as possible litigation afterward, which could lead to forceful closure of a hospital or medical facility after the emergency has subsided, leaving the situation with two losing sides.

Question III. Section E8-B. Emergency Universal Basic Income

Rank-order the Section E8-B Options that you support. Choose “1” for your most highly favored option, “2” for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for “No Section of this sort” in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)

If you choose “Abstain”, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.

☐ Option E8-B-1. The United States Transhumanist Party supports for an immediate, universal, unconditional basic income of at least $1000 per month to be provided to every United States citizen for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, without regard for individuals’ means or other sources of income. The priority for this program should be to prevent massive and irreparable economic disruptions to the lives of Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.

☐ Option E8-B-2. [Based on Suggestion by Marlin Adams to Extend UBI to the Immediate Aftermath of the Outbreak] The United States Transhumanist Party supports for an immediate, universal, unconditional basic income of at least $1000 per month to be provided to every United States citizen for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and its immediate aftermath, without regard for individuals’ means or other sources of income. The priority for this program should be to prevent massive and irreparable economic disruptions to the lives of Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.

☐ Option E8-B-NO. No Section of this sort.

Question IV. Section E8-C. Full Compensation of Affected Businesses and Workers

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

In recognition of the severe, sudden, and often all-encompassing adverse economic impacts resulting from governmental measures taken to limit the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, and in the conviction that the principles of justice require that governmental policies – even if necessary, unavoidable, or beneficial on balance – not damage innocent parties without just compensation, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the United States federal government to take the following actions:

(i) Fully compensate all adversely affected businesses for all loss of income and property resulting from governmental measures taken to contain the COVID-19 epidemic; and

(ii) Fully compensate all individuals who lost their jobs or self-employment income, or suffered a reduction in working hours, as a result of governmental measures taken to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. This compensation shall be in addition to, and not a substitute for, the universal basic income received by those individuals.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question V. Section E8-C. Full Compensation of Affected Businesses and Workers – Ancillary Provisions

If Section E8-C regarding the full compensation of affected businesses and workers is adopted as part of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, shall any of the following ancillary provisions be appended to that Section?

Select all the options you support. (You can select multiple options for this question.)  Any option receiving the majority of votes cast will be included in the ultimately adopted plank, unless Option E8-A-NO prevails in the vote on Question I above. If you do not favor any of the options below, then you may leave this question blank.

☐ Ancillary Provision E8-C-i. [Based on Proposal by Jason Geringer] The United States Transhumanist Party holds that any businesses receiving such compensation should be prohibited from engaging in buybacks of their own stocks.

☐ Ancillary Provision E8-C-ii. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that any businesses receiving such compensation should be prohibited from increasing executive pay if that pay currently exceeds $500,000 per executive per year.

Question VI. Section E8-D. Elimination of Bottlenecks at Airports

Rank-order the Section E8-D Options that you support. Choose “1” for your most highly favored option, “2” for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for “No Section of this sort” in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)

If you choose “Abstain”, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.

☐ Option E8-D-1. In recognition that the recent screening bottlenecks at United States airports create situations of unacceptable crowding which further contribute to the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for immediate and unconditional admittance through security checkpoints of all travelers currently waiting at airports in the United States. Such travelers may be required to subsequently undergo health screenings at other facilities within the United States within a certain period of time, as long as such screenings do not involuntarily place the individuals being screened in close physical proximity to one another.

☐ Option E8-D-2. [Based on Proposal by Ophelia_Drowned to Remove Unconditional Admittance, Replace It with Admittance of the Vast Majority] In recognition that the recent screening bottlenecks at United States airports create situations of unacceptable crowding which further contribute to the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for immediate admittance through security checkpoints of the vast majority travelers currently waiting at airports in the United States. Such travelers may be required to subsequently undergo health screenings at other facilities within the United States within a certain period of time, as long as such screenings do not involuntarily place the individuals being screened in close physical proximity to one another.

☐ Option E8-D-NO. No Section of this sort.

Question VII. Section E8-E. Rapid Domestic Deployment of Military Personnel from Overseas

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the recall of all United States military personnel from overseas stations as soon as possible and their deployment for the purpose of rapid hospital construction in the United States, as well as for providing rapid emergency aid and essential infrastructure improvements. Continued military presence abroad only unnecessarily exposes American troops to the risk of infection, while the expertise of American military personnel in crisis response is urgently needed within American borders.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question VIII. Section E8-F. Rapid Research into Cures for COVID-19, Common Cold, and Influenza

Rank-order the Section E8-F Options that you support. Choose “1” for your most highly favored option, “2” for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for “No Section of this sort” in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)

If you choose “Abstain”, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.

☐ Option E8-F-1. The United States Transhumanist Party supports the rapid research into effective cures and vaccines for COVID-19 and the harnessing of synergies from this research to also develop a cure for the common cold and more effective vaccination against influenza. Such research should proceed with no barriers, subject to the researchers’ expression of ethical intentions, and any regulations or processes that would delay the progress of such research should be immediately waived or repealed. In the effort to accelerate progress in this field, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for an immediate $100 billion funding package for the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine, with all volunteers being accepted into human trials as soon as practicable.

☐ Option E8-F-2. [Based on Suggestion by Marlin Adams for Government Funding and Ownership of the Cure and Its Free Distribution] The United States Transhumanist Party supports the rapid research into effective cures and vaccines for COVID-19 and the harnessing of synergies from this research to also develop a cure for the common cold and more effective vaccination against influenza. Such research should proceed with no barriers, subject to the researchers’ expression of ethical intentions, and any regulations or processes that would delay the progress of such research should be immediately waived or repealed. In the effort to accelerate progress in this field, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for an immediate $100 billion funding package for the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine, with all volunteers being accepted into human trials as soon as practicable. The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for government funding and ownership of any cure for COVID-19, to be distributed free of charge to those infected with the virus.

☐ Option E8-F-3. [Option Mentioning Free Distribution of the Cure for COVID-19 But No Mention of Nature of Ownership] The United States Transhumanist Party supports the rapid research into effective cures and vaccines for COVID-19 and the harnessing of synergies from this research to also develop a cure for the common cold and more effective vaccination against influenza. Such research should proceed with no barriers, subject to the researchers’ expression of ethical intentions, and any regulations or processes that would delay the progress of such research should be immediately waived or repealed. In the effort to accelerate progress in this field, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for an immediate $100 billion funding package for the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine, with all volunteers being accepted into human trials as soon as practicable. The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for any cure for COVID-19 to be distributed free of charge to those infected with the virus.

☐ Option E8F-NO. No Section of this sort.

Question IX. Section E8-G. Emergency Funding Package for Anti-Aging Research

Rank-order the Section E8-G Options that you support. Choose “1” for your most highly favored option, “2” for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for “No Section of this sort” in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)

If you choose “Abstain”, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.

☐ Option E8-G-1. Because biological aging is the number-one risk factor for mortality and severe complications from COVID-19 infections, as well as infections of virtually every sort, the United States Transhumanist Party emphasizes the importance of reversing biological aging as rapidly as possible and thereby protecting more lives from future pandemics. Accordingly, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for an emergency $100 billion funding package for anti-aging research, to be immediately distributed to leading research organizations in the field which have in the past specifically identified the defeat and reversal of biological aging as their goals.

☐ Option E8-G-2. [Suggestion by Mike DiVerde for a Permanent, Annual $100 Billion Funding Package.]  Because biological aging is the number-one risk factor for mortality and severe complications from COVID-19 infections, as well as infections of virtually every sort, the United States Transhumanist Party emphasizes the importance of reversing biological aging as rapidly as possible and thereby protecting more lives from future pandemics. Accordingly, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for a permanent, annual $100 billion funding package for anti-aging research, to be immediately distributed to leading research organizations in the field which have in the past specifically identified the defeat and reversal of biological aging as their goals.

☐ Option E8-G-NO. No Section of this sort.

Question X. Section E8-H. Micropayments for Citizen-Science Initiatives

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the immediate institution of a program of micropayments to everyone participating in citizen-science initiatives, such as Foldit, with the specific aim of developing cures or vaccines for COVID-19. Micropayments should be proportional to the amount of time and/or computing power spent contributing to any given initiative, with additional bounties provided for results with meaningful practical applications.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XI. Section E8-I. Rapid 3D-Printing of Ventilator Components and Other Crucial Medical Equipment

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

In response to the dire shortage of ventilator components and other crucial equipment in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the rapid 3D-printing of additional components through both private and governmental initiatives, as well as the deployment of on-site 3D-printers in every hospital and medical clinic to enable the future production of such components on demand. Immediate bounties should be offered by federal, state, and local government to individuals and businesses capable of producing such components. Policy initiatives should empower individuals and communities to explore the suitability of alternative manufacturing processes to produce needed parts and equipment to deal with the crisis.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XII. Section E8-J. Refocusing of the Education System toward Remote Learning

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for an immediate allowance for remote learning to satisfy the completion or graduation requirements of all K-12 schools and all publicly funded colleges and universities indefinitely going forward. Not only is physical proximity not necessary for effective learning in light of rapidly advancing technologies allowing immersive interaction at a distance, but the encouragement of remote learning also allows individuals more flexibility in advancing at their own pace and focusing on subjects and skill sets which result in the greatest fulfillment and most improved life prospects. The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the maximal adoption of diverse homeschooling approaches throughout the United States, suited to the individual aptitudes, preferences, and learning styles of students.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XIII. Section E8-J. Refocusing of the Education System toward Remote Learning – Ancillary Provision

If Section E8-J regarding refocusing the education system toward remote learning is adopted as part of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, shall the following ancillary provision be appended to that Section?

The United States Transhumanist Party also supports refocusing the education system on producing the goods and services necessary to maintain United States independence, including vocational studies in electricity, metalwork, ceramics, auto mechanics, graphic arts, and coding in the classroom.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XIV. Section E8-K. Mandatory Free Housing of the Homeless

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

In recognition that unsanitary living conditions are a primary cause of the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the United States Transhumanist Party supports the immediate and mandatory housing of the homeless, achieved by means of the rapid construction of tiny homes, including 3D-printed homes, without regard for building codes or zoning regulations, which must be immediately waived to allow such construction.

Every homeless individual discovered by local authorities would be required to move into a separate small home free of monetary cost and would be granted free conditional title to the home. The conditions of the title would be that the new homeowner would be obligated to perform litter-cleanup and other community-service duties for a specified time period per day under supervision, until and unless he or she is able to find different or better housing independently. The new housing communities would be subject to actively enforced covenants and restrictions prohibiting alcohol and recreational drugs. Such prohibitions will have the side benefit of transitioning the homeless toward meaningful social participation and useful work.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XV. Section E8-L. Rapid Training for Medical Personnel

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party supports establishing a rapid three-month training and certification program for hundreds of thousands medical personnel specifically for responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and other pandemics. While the newly trained medical practitioners would not be full-fledged medical doctors, they would be provided with fundamental knowledge of epidemiology, first aid, sanitary practices, and patient care, including the operation of the devices used to assist severely ill patients. This would greatly supplement the available personnel to respond effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak and also anticipate future pandemics. The new COVID-19 medical responders would be compensated generously and selected from among high-performing students and other populations with demonstrated competence and aptitude for learning. For any first responders with student loans, those loans would be forgiven in exchange for a commitment to serve until the COVID-19 pandemic is eradicated. Those medical responders who remain in their positions afterward will receive continuous training on effective pandemic response so as to be in a superior position to anticipate, prevent, and mitigate future outbreaks.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XVI. Section E8-M. Universal Free COVID-19 Testing

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the immediate deployment of as many COVID-19 diagnostic tests as possible to the general population, with the aim of achieving universal testing of every American, even those without symptoms, free of charge. Universal testing is necessary to understand the true prevalence of COVID-19 infections and the proportion of serious cases and fatalities relative to actual total cases, not merely reported cases. This would enable a true understanding of the extent of the epidemic’s spread as well as how the rates of serious complications and death compare to the common cold and influenza. The United States Transhumanist Party supports generous aid to both private and governmental research teams working in parallel on developing effective testing kits and approaches, particularly those which do not require large numbers of people to congregate.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XVII. Section E8-M. Universal Free COVID-19 Testing – Ancillary Provision

If Section E8-M regarding universal free COVID-19 testing is adopted as part of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, shall the following ancillary provision be appended to that Section?

The United States Transhumanist Party also advocates for COVID-19 testing kits to be developed that could result in tests being self-administered by individuals in their own homes and then mailed to laboratories for evaluation. This would minimize the physical contact of individuals being tested with medical practitioners and other patients.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XVIII. Section E8-N. Establishment of Facilities to Store Essential Supplies

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for the establishment of facilities, such as warehouses, where essential supplies would be temporarily stored in large quantities in case of emergencies such as COVID-19. Distributors would supply to these warehouses a large surplus of essential goods, and hospitals, medical research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and other medical organizations would get their normal supplies, including masks, soap, hand-sanitizer, and common device components, from there in the event of any shortages. In case of an epidemic, there will be enough supplies on hand to provide such institutions for a prolonged period of time.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XIX. Section E8-N. Establishment of Facilities to Store Essential Supplies – Ancillary Provision

If Section E8-N regarding establishment of facilities to store essential supplies is adopted as part of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, shall the following ancillary provision be appended to that Section?

The essential supplies stored by such facilities would include ready-made hazmat suits that could be distributed to both medical practitioners and the population at large in the event of a highly contagious disease outbreak, along with clear and layperson-friendly instructions of how to put on and use the hazmat suits effectively.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XX. Section E8-O. Collaboration with Other Nations on Pandemic Response

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party holds that, as a pro-active measure, the United States should spearhead an initiative to collaborate with other wealthy nations, or by means of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up a financial and material package of supplies and infrastructure to be deployed anywhere in the world in case a pathogen is found that needs to rapidly be contained in a foreign nation. This could be particularly important if the origin country is one that cannot itself manage to contain the outbreak due to poverty or lack of resources. This could help prevent a pathogen from ever coming to the United States.

A committee or part of an existing office should research and collaborate with other nations to learn and establish best or improved practices and update emergency plans accordingly. Likewise such collaborative efforts could establish which practices are not effective and remove those accordingly.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XXI. Section E8-P. Creation of Packages of Emergency Medical Supplies

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts by the federal government to begin an initiative in collaboration with businesses to create packages of emergency medical supplies, akin to a first-aid kit box, for civilians to buy for an affordable price, and offered for free to those who fall below the poverty line. Such a package could include advanced face masks, hand-sanitizer, soap, latex gloves, and other important items for effective epidemic response. The kit should come with clear instructions on how and when to use it, as well as instructions regarding self-quarantining and the express notice that the kit should not be re-sold, because the health and safety of everyone depends on the maximum number of people participating. This advance provision of response kits would have the effects of lowering the pressure on supply when there is an emergency and enabling people to be better prepared from the start, thus immediately limiting the spread of a pathogen.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XXII. Section E8-Q. Educational Programs on Epidemics

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the inclusion of education on epidemic crises in the curricula of schools. Science-based instruction on key attributes of epidemics and pandemics, historical instances, and effective responses could be incorporated within related courses, such as biology.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XXIII. Section E8-R. Repeal of “Certificate of Need” Laws

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the immediate and complete repeal of all “certificate of need” laws, which currently, in many jurisdictions, prohibit the construction of new hospitals or the expansion of capacity of existing hospitals, unless “need” is demonstrated using arbitrary criteria overseen by incumbents within the hospital industry. “Certificate of need” laws are entirely deleterious and have no redeeming features of any sort. They constitute pure protectionism for the incomes of incumbents, at the expense of available and affordable health care, especially in times of increased strain, such as pandemics.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XXIV. Section E8-S. Patentless Development of Vaccines

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the development of vaccines under conditions that do not afford patents to the developers but instead compensate the developers in the form of bounties for safe, effective vaccines and their rapid production and deployment. Patents, as grants of exclusive monopoly privilege for as long as twenty years, operate to limit the supply of a vaccine and render it artificially expensive. Bounties and other forms of compensation based on production and distribution of vaccines would be better aligned with the urgent public interest in those vaccines’ rapid availability to the general population.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XXV. Section E8-T. Utilization of Robots to Assist Patients and Vulnerable Individuals

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the deployment of robots and automated systems wherever possible to assist COVID-19 patients and individuals who are at greater risk for serious complications from COVID-19. These systems could include autonomous vehicles, food-delivery robots and drones, and production robots in as many industries as possible to reduce the human presence in factories while continuing to manufacture many goods necessary for human life and well-being.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

Question XXVI. Section E8-U. Abolition of the Food and Drug Administration and Its Replacement with a Radical Life Extension Administration

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

Given the extreme delays, bottlenecks, and expenses created by the mandatory approval processes on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Transhumanist Party supports abolishing the FDA and replacing it with a Radical Life Extension Administration (RLEA), whose mandate would be to prioritize the rapid development of potential disease cures, treatments, and vaccines – including any possible cures or vaccines for COVID-19, as well as treatments to mitigate and reverse the disease of biological aging, the major risk factor for COVID-19. The RLEA would allow the marketing and collection of patient data on any potential cure, treatment, or vaccine which has passed affordable safety testing at a reasonably acceptable threshold.

Select one of the following options.

 Yes.

 No.

 Abstain.

 

A Dialogue on the Simulation Interview with Dan Faggella: A Case for Responsible Stewardship – Article by Dinorah Delfin

A Dialogue on the Simulation Interview with Dan Faggella: A Case for Responsible Stewardship – Article by Dinorah Delfin

Dinorah Delfin


Voice by Terence McKenna

Last week I published an article, Programmatically Generated Everything – The Intelligence/Love Paradox” in response to an interview with Dan Faggella for Allen Saakyan’s Simulation series.

Dan’s thoughtful response to my article was highly stimulating as he was able to mindfully elaborate on, and critique my thoughts. So grateful for the opportunity to have this exchange of insights – Thank you!

Dan hypothesizes that human civilization might be heading towards a future subordinated by “substrate digital monopolies”, and as a result, becoming more disconnected from real human interactions, nature, and a truer sense of reality.

From this exchange, we expressed agreement on three fundamental areas:

1. A future controlled by substrate digital monopolies is one we don’t want, and therefore should mitigate.

2. We need to agree on a global set of values to enable responsible and sustainable technological development.

3. Emerging technologies such as virtual realities (VR), brain-computer interfaces or brain-machine interfaces (BMI), and artificial general intelligence (AGI) will benefit humanity and all sentient life, if used responsibly.

1. Predicting undesirable futures

For the record, this world of substrate monopolies is not something I hope for, strive for, or wish for. Rather, I consider it likely (read the full essay on the matter). It’s a hypothesis – and more than anything – a warning against a kind of power conflict that I fear. Such virtual worlds could be amazing and beneficial, but the conflict of controlling the substrate is a reality I foresee to be likely, not a reality I foresee to be preferable.” — Dan Faggella

Given our global market dynamics, sadly, substrate digital monopolies are likely to happen. The greater the disconnect between meaningful human interactions and nature, the longer we’ll perpetuate the destructive narcissism and lack of care driving society to an accelerating ecological and moral crisis. Could it be that a greater disconnect from a Truer sense Self and of Reality could put at odds the stability of all natural systems – including intelligent life itself?

Though I embrace the idea that we, technological creatures, have an inherent right to have full sovereignty over our individual evolution and senescence through the means of science and technologies, I’m also aware that many things can and will probably go wrong if we don’t properly educate ourselves or have the right policies in place.

How could we redirect the destructive forces of a global arms race for digital dominance towards instead a thriving technological era of creative and ecological flourishing? What would it take for market forces to adopt systems that are in service of all stakeholders?

By understanding where we come from – historically, biologically, and energetically – we will be better equipped at thinking and solving problems holistically and sustainably.

2. On the issue of context and values

During my years in Business School at Baruch College N.Y., a class that had the most impact on my education was “Social Entrepreneurship”.

As we become more dependent on automated processes, we ought to also device outlets for people to participate in Creative Processes that involve both the fulfillment of drives and pleasures and the accumulation of virtues and sound moral values. The better we are at mastering Self-Leadership, the better we will be at designing social systems that operate under the Highest Ethical Standards.

How can businesses and corporations profit from making the world a better place? How can we inspire young entrepreneurs to find True meaning in Life so that our drives and intentions are aligned with maintaining a more Harmonious Universal Ecosystem?

“Most of what we believe to be moral tenets and insights are contextual”, says Dan. I agree. It is a postmodern sensibility based on the universal natural principle of Relativism, which means, everything is essentially an opinion and nothing could be iron truth.

Some things are More truthful than others however, for example, when supported by empirical evidence. Context isn’t fixed. A set of values need not be static. (The USTP’s Bill of Rights, for example, is a living document which can be amended via votes by the U.S. Transhumanist Party members.) 

In response to last week’s article, fellow USTP Officer, Ryan Stevenson, shared the following observations:

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues you raise about the relationship between human intelligence/reason/technology and goodness recently, and what you’ve written here is really insightful. It seems that’s it’s rather easy to forget that technology isn’t a panacea, and there must be (as you put it) ‘humane’ intentions guiding its use.  

A number of the distinctions you put forward reminded me of an early Christian philosopher, Maximus the Confessor. Maximus was one of the first individuals in Western thought to grapple with the nature of technology and, unlike his fellow Christians, saw its potential for making human beings more human.  Obviously, his thought exists in a theistic context, but maybe Maximus belongs in our list of Transhumanist forebears. If you’re interested, here’s an article that touches on some of his philosophy dealing with techne…

I also support advocating for a proactive policy with regards to BMI and VR at international bodies like the UN.  Building a transorganizational coalition with other groups would be a good step forward – labor and time-intensive, but important and doable.  It would be great to get that conversation going.” 

Maximus the Confessor’s theistic approach to this early reference to critical and ethical Transhumanism is a compelling reminder that one of the most fundamental uses of technology is to help humans become More Humane. In this article, it is argued that technology is meant to assist us in “stewarding creation across the cosmos” and that the tradition of “natural law reasoning” can help “ground a global ethic for sustainable and integral development”.

Could natural law reasoning based on empirical evidence be a viable tool to articulate norms and ideas of universal understanding?

Growing up as a Christian, for example, I often wondered about the meaning of the “holy spirit”. Devoid of mythology, the concept is one of transition towards self-awareness – Ape-to-Human – the idea of “self” becoming apparent to “sinless” primates whose awareness might have increased from introducing bone marrow and mushrooms to their diet, leading to an miraculous evolutionary transition from fearful subjects of nature’s will, to responsible masters and designers of our individual and collective destiny. 

The un-learning of one’s convictions to exercise novelty and expanded new perspectives (the dissolution of limiting beliefs) is one of the most challenging of human endeavors, but the only way to true freedom and collective harmony.

3. Love and god as universal natural phenomena; not as romantic ideas of love, or a culture’s perception of a “moral” “entity”.

In an age of powerful technology, it becomes poignantly obvious that while a personal and social ethic remain necessary—albeit altered to reflect emerging understandings of personhood and relationality—they are also increasingly not sufficient. If as humanity, as one global culture, we are to order complex ecological changes effected through human (and possibly even non-human) agency and manipulation, natural law reasoning must be more profoundly cosmological. This implies, that natural law must consider as much as possible, the ‘total ecology’ in view of its finality as New Creation, but also our human obligation to steward the flourishing of creation in all its rich, inter-dependent diversity. This ultimately is what Laudato Sì calls for when it promotes an ‘ecological conversion’ for an authentic integral flourishing.” Nadia Delicata, “Homo Technologicus and the Recovery of a Universal Ethic: Maximus the Confessor and Romano Guardini”, 2018.

Concepts of Order and Chaos are as deeply ingrained in Quantum Mechanics as in Theological, or Natural Law, reasoning. Quantum theory suggests there are many dimensions to reality, and the Noosphere has been referred to as a natural phenomenon of “transhuman consciousness emerging from the interactions of human minds.”

Love exists in many forms as the inherent “sacred”/“intelligent” programming driving natural systems towards reproduction and survival. Positive feelings like joy, love, care, trust, or instinctual arousal and mating, for example, all produce chemical reactions and high vibrational frequencies in the brain, linked to growth and a strong immune system. Stress, depression, anxiety, which make the body sick and susceptible to degenerative diseases, are linked to lower vibrational brain frequencies.

While we envision a future where sentient life blooms into higher forms of understanding and expression, I believe it is safe to say that the Transhuman Era we desire is one that encourages humanity to be more caring and to think more holistically.

Dinorah Delfin is an Artist and the Director of Admissions and Public Relations for the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party. 

***

Become a Member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

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Transhumanist Bill of Rights

U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution 

 

The Importance of an “Industrial Space Elevator” to Transhumanism and the “Futurist New Deal” Platform – Article by Nikolay Agapov

The Importance of an “Industrial Space Elevator” to Transhumanism and the “Futurist New Deal” Platform – Article by Nikolay Agapov

Nikolay Agapov


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP) publishes this article by Nikolay Agapov to advance the goals of Section XVII of the USTP Platform, which states that “The United States Transhumanist Party holds that present and future societies should take all reasonable measures to embrace and fund space travel, not only for the spirit of adventure and to gain knowledge by exploring the universe, but as an ultimate safeguard to its citizens and transhumanity should planet Earth become uninhabitable or be destroyed.” The construction of a highly economical infrastructure project such as the Agapov Orbital Lift would greatly reduce the costs of space travel and thus enable rapid exploration and development of space for the benefit of humankind and all sentient entities – thus also accelerating our transition into the next era of our civilization. As of this time, the USTP has not yet endorsed a Presidential candidate but welcomes activity from all of our Presidential Primary candidates to advance the USTP Platform. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, June 23, 2019


This article is primarily about  the value to society of an industrial space elevator; which I believe could have already been built using a small fraction of the resources that have been spent on space tourism for a select few individuals.  But before we begin, I would like to take a moment to talk about how “Space Age” goals do correlate quite strongly with the goals of “Digital Democracy” and the strengthening of your middle class more generally, that are described in Mr. Johannon Ben Zion’s “Futurist New Deal” platform as a candidate seeking the Presidential nomination of the Transhumanist Party.  I have been previously described in an interview for this site as an “Open-Source Business Developer,” a term which is not a direct translation of the phrase that I used in the Russian interview, but it does describe this underlying commonality fairly well. By using “network technology” and allowing a larger group of peers to participate in the space industry, we’ll create a system that is making better use of the funds and resources that it has allocated and perhaps more importantly, one that can and will evolve as a matter of course to serve humankind.  

This open yet technocratic principle is also very well understood when it comes to more decentralized and more representative forms of government, and the funding of social programs that support the middle class, whether they are funded in the present day by largely public means or in the near-future by public-private partnerships.  

In a great many economies with post-industrial elements including Russia – although it is quite far from the strongest of economies – it is widely believed that the birth rate is “dangerously low.”  So much so that future generations of adults, working people, are said to have to provide for far too many retirees – the idea being that this can lead to an economic crisis. To avoid the crisis of an aging population, developed economies are actively attempting to assist young families.  In particular, the Russian government has provided many types of additional social services to young families that are not so widely available in the United States – for example, “Family Paid Leave”, “Universal Healthcare Services”, and other measures designed to encourage these vital family activities.  

I believe that concerns about “under-population” are not entirely rooted in reality; the main problem that people who fear this population bust express is that the population of older people or pensioners, is becoming much larger than the population of young people, and while in 20th-century technology terms that would lead to a shortage of labor, we now live in the 21st century.  Their fears do not take into account the ways in which all of our societies are moving towards full automation; a circumstance that is negating and will continue to negate these generational problems. However, the larger spirit and implementation of this partly fear-based set of policies is correct. Society and the economy flourish when people are free in their time and resources to pursue family life and small businesses; and these things are very strongly represented in the economic policies of the “Futurist New Deal”.

In Russia, the government is also concerned about a lack of human development and lower productivity.  At a recent open press conference, the Russian president announced a program for a sharp increase in overall labor productivity.  Achieving this rapid growth in production is possible only through a massive influx of small, private enterprises, but they must have a high level of automation and be able to quickly recoup the funds invested in them and develop rapidly both in quantitative and qualitative terms.  For this industries-wide sea-change to occur, you first need to create a conducive environment for all entrepreneurs. A democratization of laws and government is necessary for this purpose; but the Russian government in some ways continues to follow a strategy of rigid central planning and economic development through large state projects that have a high price and long implementation periods; this failing itself tends to make these modernization programs which are occurring under government control a rather dubious institution.

At the same time, Russia has a weak civil society and relatively low economic literacy, which do not foster developing entrepreneurial communities at the grassroots level – those not dependent on the government.  I think that developing decentralized production in Russia, as well as in many developing countries, is easier through collaboration with innovators in the United States. The first networks of decentralized industry are more likely to appear in the United States, Western Europe, and China.  After that, they will begin to transfer the rights to use their intellectual property worldwide, for a percentage of the profits. This is similar to the way 20th-century franchises have tended to work.  

Beginning to make these barest kinds of preparations for the economic health of a society, it is not so dissimilar from focusing on better and more discrete goals in the world of near-earth development.  Just as moving away from the rhetoric of “austerity” or nationalism allows you to identify problem areas more clearly, and correct them; the colonization of space by more collaborative efforts on the part of users – with more industrial and less fanciful goals in mind – will be a truly great boon to humankind.

I have begun to create social networks such as my “People of the Space-Era” and various working groups to this end; and I hope that the people of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, perhaps one of the most technologically literate cohorts in the world, will see and promote the value of this “open-source” approach.

Imagine if a new continent here on Earth were discovered and, rather than create trade networks  with that continent, those responsible for dealings with this new land opted to take a lot of “selfies” there instead – and do little else. As the public, you might rightly ask yourselves when it would be an appropriate time to begin to engage in more practical expeditions.  The simple fact is that an information society, any post-industrial society should be making better use of our connectivity and our technology than we are.

 When the first flights into space began, people enthusiastically waited for the first experiments to be followed up by larger-scale developments or innovations, such as those aimed at the practical and permanent venture into space by our species; and all the while hoping for inexpensive reusable rockets, or these fundamentally different ”rocketless” means of space transport to be developed. They waited with bated breath for the first extraterrestrial technological centers to be built, and after them the first extraterrestrial industrial enterprises should have surely followed.  People waited for humanity to start taking real steps towards becoming a space civilization. Sadly the nation-states concerned used their astronauts only to maintain their standing in public opinion, and these state space programs remained at an earlier stage of research and experimentation.

If our society wants to move into the Space Age, it is time for all of us to take the initiative. Team up to work on new global programs such as the development of new industries based on digital production, consisting of miniature factories capable of making their own replacements to accelerate industrial growth on Earth.  And later, in space, such micro-factories will themselves “multiply”, and build an array of near-earth industrial infrastructure, without the onerous costs associated with high-speed travel, operating on principles of development and economic efficiency. Today it is possible to develop on Earth the beginnings of a society on a truly cosmic scale, through the tenacity of many of you space-travel-minded people. These ways of thinking and ultimately this way of life must be adapted to the conditions of a functional space civilization, not tailored to narrower nationalistic or “creative” ends. The most innovative supporters of space expansion must take on these roles as coordinators to create earth-based industrial and entrepreneurial networks vital to this development of new programs for the industrialization of space.

Such initiative would lead to far broader and more robust sets of satellites which would improve the experiences of today’s device and IOT (Internet of Things) users and revolutionize this sadly untapped field of solar energy – which is inexhaustible and eco-friendly.  The development of cosmic mineral resources, the most valuable of these being precious metals and rare earth elements will be supplied to earth with ease. Perhaps of less value, but still market-changing, those many resources that serve in the construction of consumer orbital enterprises and transport systems, and of course the more widespread industrial use of 3-D printing, minimizing the need for expensive cargo delivery from the ground, will become more commonplace in near-earth and earthbound building.

It is indeed possible to suppose that a decentralized civil society which is still overseen by “good-faith” public coordinators could also actively prepare better for the colonization of space than we are preparing today.  For this to happen, the participation of nation-states directly is not needed, and even large capital investments would not be absolutely required; the network world of agile “citizen scientists” itself will become the best source of capital and resources. We need only initiative and personal energy to move past these 20th-century constraints.

One of the projects of these new  rocketless transport systems, which I propose that we implement, is the “Agapov Orbital Lift” (A.O.L.).   The A.O.L. is a simplified version of the space elevator which will remain in geosynchronous orbit but  will not be secured to the ground by a tether. This design is relied upon, as it is far more effective than the “Stationary Space Elevator” which has a cable that reaches the earth.  For the A.O.L. to work, there is a need for some rocketry, as the lower end of the cable will fly above the ground at a height of low orbit, but at a speed below the earth escape velocity of today’s rockets, at 1 – 3 kilometers per second. The A.O.L, unlike competitor lifts, will be able to immediately give us tremendous breakthroughs in the modernization of space transport.  This project is technically feasible since the earth connection cable is not needed, and so additional materials science innovations such as nanotubes or graphene tape need not be made a contingency of the first-generation A.O.L. Suffice it to say that materials such as carbon fiber, “Kevlar,” “Vectran,” or other polyethylene materials of a high degree of polymerization will be strong enough to suit these ends.  These existing materials-science innovations are already wholly mastered by industrial producers, are widely commercially available, and have a cost that is not exorbitantly high for near-earth development.

Waiting for one particular breakthrough is just not worth it when high-strength materials of many kinds are constantly being produced and improved upon, and as we mentioned at some length in our interview, the A.O.L. will also be upgraded many times in the course of its productive life. At certain intervals, older tethers, battered by space debris, will need to be replaced with newer, stronger, and longer ones made with more durable materials. And so, in the course of operation, the A.O.L. system of lifts will in short order be transformed into a stationary one, an achievement which itself would allow for the complete abandonment of missiles in near-earth travel.

The counterweight to the A.O.L. will be the International Space Station (ISS), as its life as a space-science laboratory comes to an end. And as part of the elevator, the station will be able to continue its multifaceted work in an exciting new capacity as a component of a revolutionary transport system. The ISS as counterweight to the elevator would be an appropriation of 100 billion dollars in existing space infrastructure, and its use will couple state space agencies with private firms in a timeless public-private partnership.  In addition, the ISS as part of the orbital elevator will be able to work as a technological platform for mounting satellites and various useful space objects, from relatively light payloads delivered to it by cables from suborbital flight. In doing so we will be responsible for the beginning of true space production.

In my previous interview with Presidential candidate Johannon Ben Zion, we discussed a figure of between 100 and 500 million dollars for the building of a first-generation, highly-automated industrial space elevator.   I understand that many of your readers are skeptical of this design and these figures, and at the risk of repeating myself from earlier in this article, I will say here again what I did not say in that shorter interview published June 12th, which is that the success of such a project could hinge on the “network effects,” the user-generated efforts in numerous interworking systems of networked organizations which are capable of consolidating the work product of industrial enterprises and small entrepreneurs on earth for the implementation of large-scale programs for the industrialization of space.  We must spearhead this construction ourselves in order to turn the entire world industry into a springboard for the colonization of the solar system and not limit this to individual government agencies or scattered and not fully realized private space firms. In short, on this quality of being “Open-Source”, which is again not the exact wording that I preferred to use in the original Russian interview, that phrasing certainly does get to the heart of the way in which this kind of effort should be different from previous private or public space-faring attempts.

Even in the weeks since that interview was conducted, new discoveries of underground resources on the Moon have been made, I believe that had previous lunar expeditions been more focused on making use of these resources, we would already have the industrial infrastructure between our planet and our Moon to be safely excavating these kinds of materials.

It would be unfair to describe private space industry as unconcerned with these improvements; incredible breakthroughs have been made in recent decades toward streamlining space-faring processes, making them cheaper and cleaner.  That said, I believe that almost all of the people working in this business have a fixation with rockets and an almost total lack of interest in the equally practical transport systems that I have described. If these engineers really believe that the focus of space travel is to stick pretty flags in piles of dirt, or engage in publicity stunts where people who are famous solely for being wealthy celebrate their success by enjoying zero gravity for a few hours – my advice is that they should pursue another line of work because these “accomplishments” are not of such great value as we have been led to believe.

My design for a space elevator is meant to be a transition, using the existing infrastructure now in low-earth orbit to create a lift system capable of slow but steady industrial growth – within 3 to 5 years – using the kinds of robotics that industry has taken for granted for a few decades.  To achieve this some adjustments will need to be made to the International Space Station so that its orbit is better positioned to support this lift system. When you consider the hundred or more billion dollars that have been spent on space stations which are now decommissioned, and I would argue have always been underutilized, the choice not to build a space elevator from them seems to me, frankly, a silly one.  The very important point in this design, which I have already iterated but that was sadly not included in the truncated first interview, is that this spacelift will not reach completely to Earth, and vehicles will be required to shuttle payloads up to that point. But as the cost of operating these vehicles will be much lower – as the high speeds required of rockets today to escape Earth’s gravity will not be necessary, the A.O.L. will nonetheless be of great value to industry.

There is no question in my mind that this tether design, which incorporates a few different interworking ultra-strong polymer blends, all of which are currently in widespread industrial use, will suffice for our materials needs.  And I should point out once again, and it has been said many times before, that by first constructing this industrial lift, we will then very soon be able to build out its infrastructure and create parallel lift structures that will quickly improve industrial, and presumably consumer, uses.

With greater interest after significant return on investment from these industrial undertakings, we will very quickly see that this initial design was well worth the effort. I hope that the lack of focus on space tourism in our first-generation A.O.L. design will be seen by potential investors as an asset to both consumers and industry in the long-term.

It is not just nostalgia for my youth that drives my interest in this repurposing of existing space infrastructure like the International Space Station; we should give the ISS a second life; this is the best way to continue the work begun by those 20th-century visionaries who first sought to propel our civilization beyond our atmosphere. These state-sponsored space administrations and the public-private partnerships which today exist in service to space travel and research are not enough to undertake this repurposing.  We need our “open-source” public efforts to become a kind of popular fascination, like the one seen in the 1950s “space race.” However, even the number of users currently contributing to the SETI app would be an excellent start to collaborative design and build efforts that would benefit our repurposing and tether-building efforts.

Such seeds of public fascination in an enterprise can direct public initiatives, both investment and intellectual capital into enterprises no less interesting and potentially far more vital than the some of the mechanisms of today’s Silicon Valley-style capitalism. Furthermore, this will give us a new arena for the development of information technology businesses in conjunction with these new generations of networks and satellite communications, which will make high-speed Internet far more accessible to the entire planet and will overwhelmingly strengthen the global information space of mankind, moving global civilization ever closer to the realization of a true “noosphere.”

Finally, I would reiterate that the focus on the cost of an industrial space lift should not be on the hundreds of millions of dollars in the initial outlay – but rather on the many trillions of dollars that could be generated by making this bold step. The A.O.L. transport infrastructure will confer great economic effects by the creation of a global industry in near-earth development; and just as on land, where railways and ports do not always bring the largest of profits, yet they do underpin the life of entirely greater industries and regions, so will millions of inhabitants benefit by industries developing out into the many hundreds of billions of dollars.

I hope that you will all leave this conversation with a somewhat clearer idea of the purpose and design of my industrial space lift, the “Agapov Orbital Lift”, and as well will consider endorsing Mr. Ben Zion and the “Futurist New Deal;” I believe that the architects of this plan truly do have your best interests as techno-optimists at heart.

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP) has not yet, as of this publication, endorsed a candidate for U.S. President. Therefore, the statement in the last sentence above by Mr. Agapov should be considered to be his personal opinion only at this time. Readers can view the profiles of all USTP Presidential Primary candidates and make informed decisions regarding which candidate(s) and which of their proposals to support. 

Open-Source Business Developer Nikolay Agapov and Transhumanist Party Presidential Primary Candidate Johannon Ben Zion In Conversation: On Near-Earth/Space Development, the Orbital Ring, and the Design for the Agapov Orbital Lift

Open-Source Business Developer Nikolay Agapov and Transhumanist Party Presidential Primary Candidate Johannon Ben Zion In Conversation: On Near-Earth/Space Development, the Orbital Ring, and the Design for the Agapov Orbital Lift

Nikolay Agapov
Johannon Ben Zion


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP) publishes this interview between Johannon Ben Zion and Nikolay Agapov to advance the goals of Section XVII of the USTP Platform, which states that “The United States Transhumanist Party holds that present and future societies should take all reasonable measures to embrace and fund space travel, not only for the spirit of adventure and to gain knowledge by exploring the universe, but as an ultimate safeguard to its citizens and transhumanity should planet Earth become uninhabitable or be destroyed.” The construction of a highly economical infrastructure project such as the Agapov Orbital Lift would greatly reduce the costs of space travel and thus enable rapid exploration and development of space for the benefit of humankind and all sentient entities – thus also accelerating our transition into the next era of our civilization. As of this time, the USTP has not yet endorsed a Presidential candidate but welcomes activity from all of our Presidential Primary candidates to advance the USTP Platform. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, June 11, 2019

Read the English-language outline for the Agapov Orbital Lift, written by Nikolay Agapov, here

Johannon Ben Zion:  We live in different countries; we’ve never met!  Should we talk about how we met?

Nikolay Agapov:  Yes, Ben, having heard of your Arizona Transhumanist Party‘s “Orbital Ring” publicity push, I felt I would have been remiss if I didn’t reach out to the Arizona Transhumanist Party and your U.S.  Presidential candidacy with the Transhumanist Party, and offer to make a comparison and further study of the respective designs, my team’s included.  I like to tell people that I am an “open-source” business developer in this context, and an avid supporter of the near-earth industrialization, in contrast to “pure exploration.”

I principally come from an educational background in economics with a specialization in business administration. I have made an extensive study of the global economic environment in the course of my international business studies and striven to understand and emulate the careers and novel methods of innovators like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs.

I have always been interested in the topic of space exploration and in the process of studying at the university, I began to develop extensive plans for near-earth industrialization with the relatively smaller-budgeted space agencies in mind, as Roscosmos now has, and also a focus on high attractiveness to investors.

In addition, I have often written of as well as developed several designs in the field of solid-fuel rocket engines.  Making solid propellant rockets cheaper and more environmentally friendly with the ability to raise their efficiency to the level of liquid engines has been a central focus of my work.

After writing and developing in these areas for quite some time, I am convinced that space agencies and businesses are not nearly focused enough on outcomes or growth, which is why I have become an “open-source” business developer; network effects and “crowd-sourcing” effects in research and development must be better utilized if we are to quicken the pace of technological advancement.

The main goal of space businesses and agencies is the development of civilizational impacts of space-faring, the transition of humanity to the level of a true space-faring civilization. And all smaller projects should be viewed as merely steps to this larger goal.

It is not so much of an overstatement to say that modern space administrations in fact remain mechanisms of the state-run propaganda that arose during the period of escalation during the Cold War. Their goal is to maintain a certain prestige and visibility, through periodic campaigns and in the launching of scientific probes, etc.  A “Space Age cynic” such as myself will view many of these endeavors as not always directly contributing to the aforementioned “transition to a space-faring civilization.” As for the real, practical, space exploration, they have no idea how to develop it and do not strive for it.

As a result, I have completely updated my approaches to the industrialization of space, in the form of more networked or “crowdsourcing-ready” businesses and more results-oriented public agencies.  Since I’ve read more recently of your “Futurist New Deal”, I do hope that you will continue your commitment to near-earth industrialization as we first discussed.

JBZ: Well, yes, we absolutely will.  Although our campaign is focused on domestic economic  policy and e-governance issues now, all of our near-term undertakings are intended to set the stage for your “transition to a space-faring civilization,” or a true post-industrial society more broadly.

Nikolay Agapov: My team has our own approaches to the development of space expansion and the end goal, the preparation for the colonization of space, a goal I believe best achieved through the creation of a permanent transportation system to our nearest neighbor, the Moon.  The more than one trillion dollars that have been spent in the pursuit of space travel have not had this focus, been a rather poor use of funds, with a somewhat disappointing result all told.   I believe that you yourself told me in our first conversation that the efforts of your space agency [NASA] were “the most expensive PR campaign.”

JBZ: Yes, I said, “The most expensive PR campaign in history” and basically one with surprisingly little focus on tangible production outcomes, a concern I share with you. A popular, if a little operatic view of the history of NASA is one to which I do subscribe to a certain degree myself, at least in principle.  It’s a distrustful sentiment that really gets to the heart of most of this confused thinking on the NASA subject in a roundabout sort of way; the NASA “conspiracy theories” are largely rooted, I believe, in this feeling that this whole operation was a “Cold War” publicity stunt – a very expensive one – that didn’t “build” much of anything, in structural engineering terms at least –  although it contributed to the production of any number of groundbreaking technological breakthroughs argued for in hindsight as justification of the expense, and quite rightly argued considering the impact of those things – in spite of the lack of interest in “near-earth industrialization” by the parties in question.

Nikolay Agapov:   I would say that the “Space Age” tropes that both derived from and guided these somewhat odd goals have themselves become codified, leading to impractical implementations (or as we’ve suggested above, a lack thereof) and also a “monoculture,” where what began as nebulous goals, have become codified by science-fiction fanatics, films, and television – so that all interest, popular or industrial, is centering on rockets and journeys beyond our sphere which are very exciting – but a little ineffable as to their purpose relative to the building of things.

JBZ: Most of us at the Transhumanist Party are believers in technocratic solutions, even some beyond the 20th-century or early post-industrial models of today – and I am one of those. The principles of technocracy and automation-centered policy making would do quite a bit to solve these problems in private and public space initiatives.

Nikolay Agapov: Modernized countries share a technocratic approach to their organization.

JBZ: Yes, it’s odd to me that so many in the USA  view technocracy as an ugly word.  I regard myself (and all those involved in the “Futurist New Deal” do as well) as an “economic populist”, but I view this tendency to criticize technocracy as something to be viewed with skepticism, a “false populist phenomenon,” that derives from what is sometimes called in the USA “know-nothing”-ism, a set of anti-science and low-information cultural values that poison, well, many, if not most, earnest efforts in public policy and the ordering of a civil society.  

Nikolay Agapov:  Yes, and your “futurists” would be doing the right thing in trying to counteract this other failing in thinking about technology and progress.

JBZ: How expensive would your space elevator be?  What’s the cost of the most expensive or extravagant elevator or orbital ring you’d like to build, since I know we’ve discussed a few with cost in mind?

Nikolay Agapov: Incorporating the existing but non-operational space stations described in my prospectus into the design, using a tether with a specialized design using Kevlar, carbon fiber,  or polyethylene materials designs that could sustain the tether and a series of relatively small additional payloads, a little smaller than a human at first – as I’ve described in our prospectus.

JBZ: Yes, I was imagining a bunch of little “Roombas” scooting up there to the space station to then be boosted off to the moon and do some work.

Nikolay Agapov:  Yes, these types of remotely controlled or semi-autonomous devices should be among the easier parts of our “work order” to fulfill.  And as the system is judged to be stable, more tethers would be built, a number of these which are stable would perhaps allow for very low-cost space tourism, travel from Earth to the space station in a matter of days at that time shortly after the initial stabilization of the tether, but it is quite likely that other materials designs for tethers would be required, delaying the tourism part, which I regard as the smallest part of this undertaking compared to getting “robots” out in earth’s orbit fixing and building existing and new infrastructure, respectively, and traveling on to do so on the Moon as well.  

Using materials costs from the Eurasian markets and including the estimates of existing but underutilized space infrastructure and present-day tether materials (despite their payload limitations), I would put the total costs at 100 – 500 million dollars.  This 500% variation in costs would be due to the uncertain nature of building in orbit and the problems with constructing and maintaining the tether, as well as market uncertainties for the materials needed.

JBZ: That’s 100-500 million right?  Millions, 1 and six zeroes, 1,000,000? Is that what you are saying?

Nikolay Agapov: Yes.

JBZ: That’s many billions of dollars lower than any of the prospecti I’ve seen, some of which push up to a trillion dollars.

Nikolay Agapov:  Building systems for space tourism would be a lot more than a few hundred million dollars, as those systems are built and rebuilt to higher standards, but by that time there will occur an immense economic impact from making better use of building in orbit or on the Moon and the ways that they would impact existing markets, with cheaper and better satellites, new energy developments in solar and other renewable energies, and the appeal and benefits of industrializing in earth’s orbit and on the moon. As a result, those significant added costs for stronger elevators would be happily undertaken by those industries.

JBZ: I am still a little taken aback with this “low” budget.   That is a number that Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis, or many of these guys could fund based on their companies’ valuations just by diverting some portion of funds from other space companies.

Nikolay Agapov:  Maybe. Your question about the most expensive project I can think of – I don’t think is a serious one.  The “most expensive design” is to continue building rockets if operating cost and environmental impact are no concern.  

JBZ: Fair enough. Your prospectus states that you could have this design completed and financially self-sustaining in 3-5 years. Do you stand by that?

Nikolay Agapov:  Yes and no.  If the project was fully funded and international cooperation and many other political factors were dealt with independently – then yes, absolutely.  I think that the cooperation of U.S. and Russian space agencies and associated corporations and entities may be enough to accomplish this.

JBZ: It would take a mighty fine group of statesmen and women to accomplish such a thing.

Nikolay Agapov:  Maybe, maybe not.

JBZ: If such a project could be built so cheaply, why hasn’t it been done yet?

Nikolay Agapov:  I would answer “politics” more than “design”, but I would also include with that concern, the lack of motivation and the focus on these “popular imagination” and “sci-fi-genre media-driven” goals we spoke of, resulting in the “rich guys with big rockets” and tourism over industrialization.  Industry is a more controversial design principle because it is perceived as being more “invasive” or “less ecological”, although in practice the opposite is true; rockets have been and still are much worse.  Irony.

JBZ:  The design like the one that I had been sharing with others was to build out an entirely new orbital ring with a “PBO”, also known as  “Zylon” tether and with a $10 billion total price tag.  That’s the “Low Cost Design for an Orbital Ring” by California engineer David Nelson, I believe, and published July of 2017.  I should say it’s possible he’s a bit of a shy character; after a few attempts I’ve not been able to actually identify him (his writing has been republished, and Dave Nelson is an extremely common name in the U.S.) nor contact him for comment.  It’s also a design that requires a 10-plus-year build timeline.

Nikolay Agapov:  I’ve read all about this design, and he’s done a lot of good work, but I think we can do a lot better with a smaller, more industry-focused orbital ring.  The option of using the decommissioned space station as a counterweight is a major selling point for us, but it, too, requires international and national politicking, as well as the business acumen of my organization and other private space companies.

JBZ:  Therein lies the rub, but it starts with getting people excited and having these conversations outside of the typical bluster of these discussions as nationalistic or symbolic endeavors.  If I had 100 million dollars, I would be investing that money into this today, and to that end  I hope we can link to your outline at least, for our readers, here.

Nikolay Agapov:  Yes, that is fine, but bear in mind the full prospectus is written in Russian, and this outline of concepts was also written in English, but there remain a few proofreading concerns, so please be patient.  This outline at the time of its publication had not had the benefit of a translator, as this interview has.

JBZ: But feel free to comment and discuss with us,;we will be happy to engage with you. The function of such a thing is to answer questions and bring in new ideas and hopefully get a working space elevator built soon.

Nikolay Agapov:  Yes, thank you for your time.

 

Blockchains Instead of Beggars: Could Cryptocurrencies Unleash Universal Basic Income? – Article by Nicole Sallak Anderson

Blockchains Instead of Beggars: Could Cryptocurrencies Unleash Universal Basic Income? – Article by Nicole Sallak Anderson

Nicole Sallak Anderson


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by Nicole Sallak Anderson as part of our ongoing integration with the Transhuman Party. This article posits a creative approach toward fulfilling one of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s objectives – the achievement of a Universal Basic Income (which is advocated for in our Platform and in the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 3.0). We advocate a wide variety of emerging technologies, including cryptocurrencies, as well, and we endeavor to contemplate ways in which such technologies can solve deep-rooted societal problems by altering people’s incentives, hopefully in positive directions. This article was written in February 2018, just past the peak of the cryptocurrency bubble, but it looks beyond that bubble and envisions more sustainable functions for cryptocurrencies beyond speculation – for instance, achieving the goal of providing a basic income and integrating activities that create external value in the community with rewards for the individuals who engage in such activities. We continue to encourage our members to contemplate possibilities for implementing a Universal Basic Income in realistic ways that would harness new technologies for incremental progress toward the goal and would not require revolutionizing the entire world at once. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, January 6, 2019


Cryptocurrencies are America’s latest capitalist playthings—from Bitcoin’s Christmas surprise of over $14K per coin, to the Bitcoin Cash fork of August 2017 and BitFury’s success in negotiating blockchain contracts in both Georgia and Dubai, cryptocurrencies, and the technology that powers them, went from being anarchists’ obscure hobby to the latest shiny object that the financial markets are drooling over. While cryptocurrencies are still a ways off from becoming actual currencies that can be used to exchange goods, they have proven to be valuable assets in today’s markets. Moreover, the blockchain technology that underpins said currencies has begun to gain momentum as an advanced application for the encryption and storage of data. Many see it as the natural evolution in the digital age.

For those of you who don’t know what blockchain technology is read here, or if you’re interested in cryptocurrencies in general, read here. People much savvier than I can teach you the technical details. Today I want to discuss practical implementations.

In the past two years, cryptocurrencies have made a lot of young people, and already rich old people, very rich. Cryptocoins and blockchain applications are the latest innovation to encourage the American rags-to-riches mythos, and I don’t see their bubbles popping anytime soon. Yet is seems like all of this is creating just another set of 1% who are wealthy, while most miss the boat completely, and this is the complete opposite of what many of the early adopters had envisioned—rather than creating a new cryptoclass, the blockchain was supposed to emancipate humanity.

This has me thinking…how could blockchain technology be used to create currencies that support a universal income? I’ve written before about universal basic income, from both a practical perspective and a feminist perspective. Most people argue there isn’t enough money out there to create a sustainable world where everyone is fed. I’ve long called bulls**t on this. Technologically we can now feed the world, so what’s holding us back? The food can be farmed in labs and it can be distributed to the most remote locations on Earth. Why then, does much of it rot in holding areas? Or never even get planted, while children die of starvation in our streets? Even in America, child poverty is rising with 30.4 million children daily in our country using the National School Lunch Program in their schools.

To me, the growing poverty in the “Land of Opportunity” is a universal lack of love on every citizen’s part, not a money problem. However, if everyone’s convinced that there aren’t enough American dollars to go around so that we can guarantee housing, food, and clothing to our fellow brothers and sisters, then perhaps it’s time to make more money, and not the kind you can hold in your wallet.

The way to create a new economy based on care and commonwealth may be to create a new currency with community as its only goal, rather than profit and greed, and what better way to do this than with a cryptocurrency? Why not build a crypto-token that is secure, hard to hack and trackable, whose purpose was to provide liquid resources to the most vulnerable members of society?

This last feature – traceability – is very important.  In principle it would be a clear advantage over fiat currency welfare systems, since the cash economy is only partially measurable in terms of mapping demographic groups to purchase/usage patterns. For fun, let’s call the new currency, LifeCoin, created not to get a bunch of miners and traders rich, but instead to be shared from person to person, growing as we all grow in wealth, a true peer-to-peer network both technically and socially.

A currency whose aim is to provide a universal basic income would need to have the following properties:

1)      It would need to be easily distributed to all citizens in the network 18 and over. Thus, a wallet that accepted LifeCoin, identifiable by the currency platform would need to be created.

2)      It would need to be accepted by all businesses that provide shelter (banks, landlords, etc.), food, clothing and healthcare. Thus a networked payment system that accepted LifeCoin and linked up to user’s wallets would need to be created. It needs to be seamless and provide incentives to services providers for honoring the LifeCoins as currency, thus the traditional fee structures in place for money exchange would need adjustment.

3)      It would need the ability to be changed into other currencies at the owner’s discretion. Thus the LifeCoin would need to be accepted on a decent number of exchanges.

This is a minimum list of technological needs, but at its most basic, a currency needs to be able to flow throughout the society if it’s going to be a true universal basic income solution.

Essentially there are two ways the LifeCoin could be created, either by the government, or by us, the citizens in an act of goodwill.

How could a government create and issue LifeCoin responsibly? There are probably many answers to this, but I think LifeCoin could be implemented by local governments that are looking to use blockchain technologies to manage and secure their data. Governments collect more than taxes, they’ve long been keeping track of our data, such as births, deaths, marriages, land titles, county employee information, driver’s license information, school information, health information and even voting registration and ballots. All of this information needs to be managed, and many governments are starting to consider using blockchain technology to do just that. Take the country of Georgia, who has uploaded over 100,000 land titles to a blockchain network created by BitFury. They have decided that using blockchain smart contracts will help them prove land ownership as Russia slowly begins to occupy more and more of their land. Dubai has also decided to use the Ethereum architecture to manage its data and bring their country into the 21st century.

Many other countries have taken notice. In Haiti, for example, after the earthquake in 2010, the first building to fall into ruin was the building that held all of their public records. In seconds, all the paperwork that documented who owned what land was gone. My own town of Santa Cruz, CA, is always under earthquake threat, could moving their local government data to a blockchain system help them in the long run? Of course it can.

Money will be saved by adopting these new technologies for data management. According to an article in August 2017, the government of Dubai expects to, “Reduce the cost of document processing by billions of dollars through eliminating manual processing of residencies, passport documentation and visas through a partnership with ConsenSys.

Billions of dollars, eh? And what to do with those savings? Why not redistribute them back into the community as a universal basic income? This can be done by tokenizing the endeavor, and backing the initial release of the coins with the savings the governmental entity receives.

As governments begin to implement various blockchain schemes to manage their data it is the ideal moment for them to tokenize the blockchain ledger they’re creating and distribute those tokens to their citizens as a universal basic income.

Consider Santa Cruz. Recently named the fourth most expensive place to live in the nation, it is estimated that our cost of living is 81% higher than the national average and our housing costs are 208% higher than the national average. When I drive down the street near town, I see tents nestled in along the highway, back near the fences and hidden in tall grasses. At night, when you pass our city hall, the courtyard is filled with people in sleeping bags, trying to find a place to sleep. Beggars line our downtown mall. Truly if any town needed a universal basic income, it’s ours.

Perhaps UBI begins at home with our local city council opting to invest in building a blockchain ledger using Ethereum to manage all contracts regarding land in the county as well as all legal documentation and contracts stored in the courthouse. The project includes tokens that are backed by the city at first with the monies annually saved by efficiently managing and securing their data. These tokens are distributed evenly to every citizen over 18 on a monthly basis.

As time goes on, more data can be added to the ledger and with each savings by switching from the manual handling of the data to digital networks doing the job, that money is used to issue new coins to citizens. The basic income could start at one number, say $500/month with the intention of growing to a final amount that can sustain a human being within the county.

In addition, more tokens are created as incentives to encourage people to enter the system as miners to help maintain the ledger. This is the decentralization aspect, the data is stored across hundreds of servers rather than just one. Thus everyone gets a set amount, but those who mine create more coins that they can use to purchase items in the community, or trade on the exchange, thus increasing the value of the tokens. Tokens can also be given to businesses as a means of encouraging them to accept LifeCoin as payment for their goods and services. With time, the currency spreads throughout the city and county, and as a result is accepted at more and more locations. None of this is because we “took” money from somewhere else. Using blockchain technologies, money was freed up to invest in a new currency, one that exists for the sole purpose of providing a living to our citizens.

Now, this is a very basic sketch of the system, and one I’m not able to complete. I’m merely putting it out there as something to debate and discuss, with the hopes that minds much more crypto than mine can see that their work has this potential. And perhaps to get the political dialogue rolling. This has to start somewhere and we can’t wait for our federal government to help. I also realize that as with any monetary system, cryptocurrencies may not be able to address the potential inflation and deflation associated with a universal basic income.

My good friend and fellow Medium writer, John Eden, put it perfectly:

“My view is that the real worry about crypto-powered UBI has nothing to do with the power of the blockchain from a tech POV.  The problem is that any economic system with a fixed or variable amount of tokens can and will experience inflation and deflation.  To me, this basic economic fact can’t in any way to neutralized by blockchain.  The implication of this is that the token one designs for UBI must be created in partnership with some pretty thoughtful economists so that a method of adjusting the value of the token relative to the wider economy is built into the token infrastructure.  After all, you don’t want to create LifeCoin only to see inflation ruin it’s core purpose – i.e., giving the most vulnerable members of society the ability to live a decent life.”

I’m not sure where we’d find those thoughtful economists. Can our local governments implement a token system to help the poor while keeping in mind the long term economic monetary policy goals? The blockchain might not save us from this issue, but the currency created can be set up with a new set of rules than our regular fiat, especially since it would be it’s own new market, individualized at the local level. We’ve been manipulating the markets forever, is it any different for a township to create it’s own currency to establish a standard of living?

We could also leave the government out of this and instead take responsibility as private citizens, creating a universal reward token ourselves. Private citizens can create a coin that is then given to those who need it. This work has already begun. GrantCoin was established in 2015 with the intent of providing a UBI to those who meet their criteria. However, this feels more like charitable handouts than a true UBI, for it’s still based on need, which requires judgement by a group of people who get to determine whether or not you really need it. Universal Basic Income is not only about providing the basics to all in a world of plenty, it’s also about freeing us from the judgments of others. We all receive a universal basic income, that’s what makes it universal, and we’re trusted to do what we should with it. Still, GrantCoin is a good start.

Another idea that caught my eye was the concept of gamifying cryptocurrencies as a means of deploying them. In an incredibly passionate plea to save cryptocurrencies from big business, author Daniel Jeffries writes,

By gamifying money distribution, we spread it far and wide across the playing field, as fast as possible, and guarantee that the system becomes viable. We bootstrap the system from banana republic to global powerhouse. That will bring powerful economic players into the system, who will then be incentivized to protect it and expand it.

If we move swiftly, we can unleash the true power of the blockchain to unlock the frozen reserves of human potential, rise from the ashes of our crumbling political systems and rocket into a whole new level of economic potential and development.”

He goes on to explain how by using a killer gaming app along with a universal reward token, one could possibly build a cryptocurrency that is completely decentralized with the possibility to not only fund life, but allow the movement to build into smart contracts and other aspects of civilization. Instead of the government initiating the move to the blockchain, private citizens do it for each other, via games so fun to play, we play them for a living. His article is a worthy read if this sort of idea floats your boat.

This may seem a bit pie in the sky, and on some level it is, but when thinking about the future of money we have the ability to write a whole new story, so why not base it upon joy and games?

Regardless, as financial firms explore the possibilities that platforms like Ethereum bring, it may benefit us to begin to probe our local governments into doing the same. However, instead of keeping the profits for themselves, they could the adventure to create new systems of money that promote life and health for all citizens.

Nicole Sallak Anderson is Computer Science graduate from Purdue University, and former CTO for a small Silicon Valley startup, turned novelist and blogger, focusing on the intersection of technology and consciousness. In addition to rebooting her eHuman series, she recently sold a historical fantasy trilogy about the Great Egyptian Revolt of 200 B.C. She currently lives in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains in California with her husband and teen-aged sons, where she raises goats and bees. She enjoys spinning, knitting, playing the bass, and dancing, particularly the tango. Visit her blog at eHumanity: The Intersection of Consciousness and Technology

The Singularity: Fact or Fiction or Somewhere In-Between? – Article by Gareth John

The Singularity: Fact or Fiction or Somewhere In-Between? – Article by Gareth John

Gareth John


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by our member Gareth John, originally published by IEET on January 13, 2016, as part of our ongoing integration with the Transhuman Party. This article raises various perspectives about the idea of technological Singularity and asks readers to offer their perspectives regarding how plausible the Singularity narrative, especially as articulated by Ray Kurzweil, is. The U.S. Transhumanist Party welcomes such deliberations and assessments of where technological progress may be taking our species and how rapid such progress might be – as well as how subject to human influence and socio-cultural factors technological progress is, and whether a technological Singularity would be characterized predominantly by benefits or by risks to humankind. The article by Mr. John is a valuable contribution to the consideration of such important questions.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, January 2, 2019


In my continued striving to disprove the theorem that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, I shall now proceed to ask one. What’s the consensus on Ray Kurzweil’s position concerning the coming Singularity? [1] Do you as transhumanists accept his premise and timeline, or do you feel that a) it’s a fiction, or b) it’s a reality but not one that’s going to arrive anytime soon? Is it as inevitable as Kurzweil suggests, or is it simply millenarian daydreaming in line with the coming Rapture?

According to Wikipedia (yes, I know, but I’m learning as I go along), the first use of the term ‘singularity’ in this context was made by Stanislav Ulam in his 1958 obituary for John von Neumann, in which he mentioned a conversation with von Neumann about the ‘ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue’. [2] The term was popularised by mathematician, computer scientist and science fiction author Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological advancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity. [3]  Kurzweil cited von Neumann’s use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann’s classic The Computer and the Brain. [4]

Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045 [5] whereas Vinge predicts some time before 2030 [6]. In 2012, Stuart Armstrong and Kaj Sotala published a study of AGI predictions by both experts and non-experts and found a wide range of predicted dates, with a median value of 2040. [7] Discussing the level of uncertainty in AGI estimates, Armstrong stated at the 2012 Singularity Summit: ‘It’s not fully formalized, but my current 80% estimate is something like five to 100 years.’ [8]

Speaking for myself, and despite the above, I’m not at all convinced that a Singularity will occur, i.e. one singular event that effectively changes history for ever from that precise moment moving forward. From my (admittedly limited) research on the matter, it seems far more realistic to think of the future in terms of incremental steps made along the way, leading up to major diverse changes (plural) in the way we as human beings – and indeed all sentient life – live, but try as I might I cannot get my head around these all occurring in a near-contemporary Big Bang.

Surely we have plenty of evidence already that the opposite will most likely be the case? Scientists have been working on AI, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, robotics, et al., for many years and I see no reason to conclude that this won’t remain the case in the years to come. Small steps leading to big changes maybe, but perhaps not one giant leap for mankind in a singular convergence of emerging technologies?

Let’s be straight here: I’m not having a go at Kurzweil or his ideas – the man’s clearly a visionary (at least from my standpoint) and leagues ahead when it comes to intelligence and foresight. I’m simply interested as to what extent his ideas are accepted by the wider transhumanist movement.

There are notable critics (again leagues ahead of me in critically engaging with the subject) who argue against the idea of the Singularity. Nathan Pensky, writing in 2014 says:

It’s no doubt true that the speculative inquiry that informed Kurzweil’s creation of the Singularity also informed his prodigious accomplishment in the invention of new tech. But just because a guy is smart doesn’t mean he’s always right. The Singularity makes for great science-fiction, but not much else. [9]

Other well-informed critics have also dismissed Kurzweil’s central premise, among them Professor Andrew Blake, managing director of Microsoft at Cambridge, Jaron Lanier, Paul Allen, Peter Murray, Jeff Hawkins, Gordon Moore, Jared Diamond, and Steven Pinker to name but a few. Even Noam Chomsky has waded in to categorically deny the possibility of such. Pinker writes:

There is not the slightest reason to believe in the coming singularity. The fact you can visualise a future in your imagination is not evidence that it is likely or even possible… Sheer processing is not a pixie dust that magically solves all your problems. [10]

There are, of course, many more critics, but then there are also many supporters also, and Kurzweil rarely lets a criticism pass without a fierce rebuttal. Indeed, new academic interdisciplinary disciplines have been founded in part on the presupposition of the Singularity occurring in line with Kurzweil’s predictions (along with other phenomena that pose the possibility of existential risk). Examples include Nick Bostrom’s Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University or the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge.

Given the above and returning to my original question: how do transhumanists taken as a whole rate the possibility of an imminent Singularity as described by Kurzweil? Good science or good science-fiction? For Kurzweil it is the pace of change – exponential growth – that will result in a runaway effect – an intelligence explosion– where smart machines design successive generations of increasingly powerful machines, creating intelligence far exceeding human intellectual capacity and control. Because the capabilities of such a super intelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is the point beyond which events may become unpredictable or even unfathomable to human intelligence. [11] The only way for us to participate in such an event will be by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating.

And I guess this is what is hard for me to fathom. We are creating these machines with all our mixed-up, blinkered, prejudicial, oppositional minds, aims, and values. We as human beings, however intelligent, are an absolutely necessary part of the picture that I think Kurzweil sometimes underestimates. I’m more inclined to agree with Jamais Cascio when he says:

I don’t think that a Singularity would be visible to those going through one. Even the most disruptive changes are not universally or immediately distributed, and late followers learn from the dilemmas of those who had initially encountered the disruptive change. [12]

So I’d love to know what you think. Are you in Kurzweil’s corner waiting for that singular moment in 2045 when the world as we know it stops for an instant… and then restarts in a glorious new utopian future? Or do you agree with Kurzweil but harbour serious fears that the whole ‘glorious new future’ may not be on the cards and we’re all obliterated in the newborn AGI’s capriciousness or gray goo? Or, are you a moderate, maintaining that a Singularity, while almost certain to occur, will pass unnoticed by those waiting? Or do you think it’s so much baloney?

Whatever, I’d really value your input and hear your views on the subject.

NOTES

1. As stated below, the term Singularity was in use before Kurweil’s appropriation of it. But as shorthand I’ll refer to his interpretation and predictions relating to it throughout this article.

2. Carvalko, J, 2012, ‘The Techno-human Shell-A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap.’ (Mechanicsburg: Sunbury Press)

3. Ulam, S, 1958, ‘ Tribute to John von Neumann’, 64, #3, part 2. Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. p. 5

4. Vinge, V, 2013, ‘Vernor Vinge on the Singularity’, San Diego State University. Retrieved Nov 2015

5. Kurzweil R, 2005, ‘The Singularity is Near’, (London: Penguin Group)

6. Vinge, V, 1993, ‘The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era’, originally in Vision-21: Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering in the Era of Cyberspace, G. A. Landis, ed., NASA Publication CP-10129

7. Armstrong S and Sotala, K, 2012 ‘How We’re Predicting AI – Or Failing To’, in Beyond AI: Artificial Dreams, edited by Jan Romportl, Pavel Ircing, Eva Zackova, Michal Polak, and Radek Schuster (Pilsen: University of West Bohemia) https://intelligence.org/files/PredictingAI.pdf

8. Armstrong, S, ‘How We’re Predicting AI’, from the 2012 Singularity Conference

9. Pensky, N, 2014, article taken from Pando. https://goo.gl/LpR3eF

10. Pinker S, 2008, IEEE Spectrum: ‘Tech Luminaries Address Singularity’. http://goo.gl/ujQlyI

11. Wikipedia, ‘Technological Singularity; Retrieved Nov 2015. https://goo.gl/nFzi2y

12. Cascio, J, ‘New FC: Singularity Scenarios’ article taken from Open the Future. http://goo.gl/dZptO3

Gareth John lives in Cardiff, UK and is a trainee social researcher with an interest in the intersection of emerging technologies with behavioural and mental health. He has an MA in Buddhist Studies from the University of Bristol. He is also a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party. 


HISTORICAL COMMENTS

Gareth,

Thank you for the thoughtful article. I’m emailing to comment on the blog post, though I can’t tell when it was written. You say that you don’t believe the singularity will necessarily occur the way Kurzweil envisions, but it seems like you slightly mischaracterize his definition of the term.

I don’t believe that Kurzweil ever meant to suggest that the singularity will simply consist of one single event that will change everything. Rather, I believe he means that the singularity is when no person can make any prediction past that point in time when a $1,000 computer becomes smarter than the entire human race, much like how an event horizon of a black hole prevents anyone from seeing past it.

Given that Kurzweil’s definition isn’t an arbitrary claim that everything changes all at once, I don’t see how anyone can really argue with whether the singularity will happen. After all, at some point in the future, even if it happens much slower than Kurzweil predicts, a $1,000 computer will eventually become smarter than every human. When this happens, I think it’s fair to say no one is capable of predicting the future of humanity past that point. Would you disagree with this?

Even more important is that although many of Kurzweil’s predictions are untrue about when certain products will become commercially available to the general public, all the evidence I’ve seen about the actual trend of the law of accelerating returns seems to be exactly spot on. Maybe this trend will slow down, or stop, but it hasn’t yet. Until it does, I think the law of accelerating returns, and Kurzweil’s singularity, deserve the benefit of the doubt.

[…]

Thanks,

Rich Casada


Hi Rich,
Thanks for the comments. The post was written back in 2015 for IEET, and represented a genuine ask from the transhumanist community. At that time my priority was to learn what I could, where I could, and not a lot’s changed for me since – I’m still learning!

I’m not sure I agree that Kurzweil’s definition isn’t a claim that ‘everything changes at once’. In The Singularity is Near, he states:

“So we will be producing about 1026 to 1029 cps of nonbiological computation per year in the early 2030s. This is roughly equal to our estimate for the capacity of all living biological human intelligence … This state of computation in the early 2030s will not represent the Singularity, however, because it does not yet correspond to a profound expansion of our intelligence. By the mid-2040s, however, that one thousand dollars’ worth of computation will be equal to 1026 cps, so the intelligence created per year (at a total cost of about $1012) will be about one billion times more powerful than all human intelligence today. That will indeed represent a profound change, and it is for that reason that I set the date for the Singularity—representing a profound and disruptive transformation in human capability—as 2045.” (Kurzweil 2005, pp.135-36, italics mine).

Kurzweil specifically defines what the Singularity is and isn’t (a profound and disruptive transformation in human intelligence), and a more-or-less precise prediction of when it will occur. A consequence of that may be that we will not ‘be able to make any prediction past that point in time’, however, I don’t believe this is the main thrust of Kurzweil’s argument.

I do, however, agree with what you appear to be postulating (correct me if I’m wrong) in that a better definition of a Singularity might indeed simply be ‘when no person can make any prediction past that point in time.’ And, like you, I don’t believe it will be tied to any set-point in time. We may be living through a singularity as we speak. There may be many singularities (although, worth noting again, Kurzweil reserves the term “singularity” for a rapid increase in artificial intelligence as opposed to other technologies, writing for example that, “The Singularity will allow us to transcend these limitations of our biological bodies and brains … There will be no distinction, post-Singularity, between human and machine.” (Kurzweil 2005, p. 9)

So, having said all that, and in answer to your question of whether there is a point beyond which no one is capable of predicting the future of humanity: I’m not sure. I guess none of us can really be sure until, or unless, it happens.

This is why I believe having the conversation about the ethical implications of these new technologies now is so important. Post-singularity might simply be too late.

Gareth